Dawgs headed to the Semi’s against Kirksville
The Mexico High School boys basketball team rolled into the Class 4 District 8 opener against Moberly as a decided favorite. They had already beaten Moberly twice. Handily, each time (83-53 on 2/3, and 85-48 on 2/17). Midway through the fourth quarter they finally showed why they were the favorite as they rolled to a 74-59 win that knocked the Spartans out of the state title chase. Moberly, the #6-seed, finished the season at 3-23 on the year.
But, the hometown Spartans didn’t go easily. Mexico led early on before Moberly took their first lead of the game, 8-7, at the 3:05 mark of the first on a Collin Huffman free throw. They opened up a three point lead after one quarter, 17-14.
Mexico, which came out flat early, appeared to regain control of the game with a 10-3 run to start the second. The rush was led by an Anthony Shivers free throw, sandwiched between DJ Long and Jordan Shelton layups. Moberly’s Mason Bivins hit two free throw before his teammate Derieus Wallace connected for one, before Mexico’s Aiden Knipfel hit a free throw and Long hit consecutive buckets.
MHS was off and running. Long spurred the first half offense with 17 of his game high 30 points. The Dawgs led 37-24 at intermission.
Moberly opened the third with a flurry that put themselves right back into the game. They cut the lead to four, before Mexico got a late bucket to lead 49-42 after three quarters.
Bivins started the fourth with two more free throws to cut the lead to five. Two Tremayne Watts free throws cut the Dawg lead to four at the 6:11 mark of the fourth and that’s when the Mexico offense went back to work. Long hit two free throws and a layup before a wide open in the block, Donye Nunnelly, hit a layup. It was the start of a 19-8 run to end the game that put it well out of reach. Jordan Shelton, who had been on the bench with foul trouble, hit for 10 of his 12 fourth quarter points to close it out.
After the game, Mexico Head Coach Darren Pappas said his ballclub was inconsistent. “Give some credit to the Spartans,” he said. “They came out and fought, but we have to play better than that if we want to win on Wednesday night (against #2 seed Kirksville).
In addition to Long’s 30 points, MHS got 21 from Shelton. The play again Wednesday night at 7:30 in the District semi-finals.
Moberly finishes the year 3-23. They were lead by senior Wallace and junior Tyrese Rucker, both with 13 points.