Tonganoxie stuns top tournament seed
On the heels of its 54-41 Friday night victory over Mill Valley, Tonganoxie kept the ball bouncing Monday, beating the no. 1-seeded Oskaloosa Bears 55-46 in the first round of the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament.
Opening the game with a 12-1 run, Tonganoxie led 15-5 after one. The score was 32-13 at the half.
Bryan Gurss, who went off for 21 against Mill Valley on Friday, scored 12 of his game-high 19 points during that explosive first half.
Much of the teams' first-half success was due to its press and its defense. In the half, Tonganoxie forced Oskaloosa to turn the ball over 13 times and held the Bears to 19 percent shooting.
But after the half, things began to sour for the Chieftains. They were held scoreless for the majority of the third quarter before rattling off six quick points, sparked by a Gurss free throw, to close out the quarter.
"Oskaloosa is a very physical team," said Coach Mike Webb. "They forced us to play their tempo they came out the aggressors in the third quarter."
But Tonganoxie came out the aggressor in the fourth quarter, with senior Kyle Rodell opening the quarter by slicing in for a quick layup. At that point the lead was 40-26. Rodell had 14 in the game.
After Oskaloosa scored a quick basket, senior Scott Breuer answered right back with a quick shot from the block. But Oskaloosa wouldn't go away and at one point had cut the Chieftains' lead to eight.
But Tonganoxie made its free throws down the stretch and held on for the nine-point win.
Tonganoxie senior Matt Needham said the second half was a battle against time.
"We just sort of came out flat," he said. "I don't think we ever came out of it. We ran out the clock before they could come back the clock was our enemy."
On Friday night, Eudora will be the team's enemy when it faces the Cardinals at 6 p.m. in the tournament's second round.
"After losing four in a row, this win feels real good," Webb said. "But we do have to continue to improve, because the farther we play (in the tournament) the tougher the games will get."