Drop to 15-10 overall and 7-5 in NCMC

Two nights after dropping their first conference game of the season, the Kirksville Tigers basketball team may have backed it up with its best game of the year Thursday night on the road by beating the Boonville Pirates 71-48.
While the Tigers still have one week in the regular season, Boonville closed out their final week of play with back to back losses to drop to 15-10 overall and 7-5 in the NCMC.
“Kirksville was coming off their first conference loss of the season and they played with a lot of fire and intensity and we simply couldn’t match that. Kirksville made it extremely hard for us to get into our offense. We got a lot of one shot trips in the game. Add that to the fact that we committed some turnovers and shot the ball poorly made for a very long night. Defensively, Kirksville was able to slice our zone. The Tigers were able to dump the ball down low to their 6’-5” post player where he is very effective. The Kirksville post players were also able to get numerous offensive rebounds and get easy putbacks. Kirksville also took us out of our transition game. Their transition defense was very good and limited us to just a few transition buckets. We have to flush this game from our system and set our sights on defending our district championship next week. We finished a solid 7-5 in conference play this year which is the highest win total in eight years. I feel good about our conference season considering our conference opponents are all Class 4 schools, plus we finish the season at 15-10 against a demanding schedule. Conference play and tough non-conference schedule will only help us in the future.”
The Pirates drew the No. 1 seed in the Class 3 District 13 Tournament this week in Versailles. Boonville will play eighth-seeded Holden in the opening round on Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.
Considering the start in the game, the Pirates were lucky to be down by just seven after the first eight minutes of the ballgame.
Of course give credit to Kirksville, who came out and scored the game’s first-six points. The Tigers also held off a late charge in the first after Boonville cut the lead to two at 12-10 after a 6-0 run with 2:14 left.
Senior Lane Kephart also deserves some credit after nine of the team’s 19 points, which was just three shy of the entire team for Boonville.
Nonetheless, the Pirates still kept Kirksville within striking distance while trailing by a score of 19-12.
Kirksville outscored Boonville again in the second quarter 13-12  to lead at the half 32-24. However the bigger problem was finding a way to stop Kephart, who seemingly had his way inside against the Boonville with eight straight points during a two-minute stretch to extend the lead to 14 at 29-15 with 3:34 left.
Senior Riley Lang, meanwhile, was fairly quiet in the first half. While finishing with 76 points in his last-two games, Lang had just 11 in the first half-three in the first quarter.
Trailing by eight after the first-two quarters wasn’t exactly what Boonville had in mind against the Tigers. But after struggling on both ends of the floor, the eight point deficit probably looked more like a one point deficit.
Of course it got worse before it got better for Boonville in the third. Although the Pirates were good enough from the field, hitting 4 of 9 shots, the defense was next to non-existent as Kirksville held a 24-8 advantage to extend the lead to 22 at 56-34.
The Tigers also led by as much as 29 in the final period on three different occasions before Boonville cut the lead to 25 after a free throw by Avery Reardon and a three by Clayton Gochenour to make it 71-46 with 45 seconds remaining.
The Pirates also held a 16-13 scoring edge in the fourth.
Kephart and TJ Schilling were a two player wrecking crew for the Tigers while combining for 53 of the team’s 71 points.
Kephart led all scorers with 30 points while Schilling chipped in 23.
For Boonville, Lang finished the game with 17 points along with six rebounds and two assists.
Nick Zeitlow chipped in 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals while Ryan Beaver added eight points, one assist and one steal, Dylan Watson four points and one rebound, Clayton Gochenour three points, one rebound and one steal, Avery Reardon one point and three rebounds, Brandon Johnson four rebounds, one assist and one steal and Avian Thomas with one assist.
Despite getting beat by 28 points, the Pirates finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field and 83 percent from the foul line. Kirksville, meanwhile, hit on 4 of 5 attempts for 80 percent.
The Boonville boys JV basketball team closed the regular season on a 10-game winning streak by beating Kirksville 54-44.
The Pirates, who closed out the season at 15-5 overall, outscored Kirksville 34-18 in the first half but was outscored 26-20 in the second half.
Boonville JV coach Jesse Oswald said the Pirates ended the season on a real positive note.
“This team has been one of the most fun teams to coach for a variety of reasons,” Oswald said. “For one, they bring intensity and aggressiveness to every game, every night. They are never afraid to back down from a challenge, and I never thought we weren’t in any of our games. Another reason is because of how much they have improved.”
Avian Thomas had the high game for Boonville with 11 points. Kyle Chrisman chipped in 10, Kellen Brownfield seven, Josh Chrisman six, Tyler Schuster five, Trae Williams and Tayshawn Bledsoe each with four, Dylan Barnthouse three and Nathan Platt and Tramell Coleman each with two.
For Kirksville, Tanner Lain had 12 points.