MURRAY — Get ready for the sequel on Tuesday.
Same place, same time. Get your seat early.
The fourth-ranked Murray Mustangs suffered their first loss of the season in the Bluegrass Conference Tournament finals Saturday. Avenging an earlier two-point defeat, Lamoni started strong and hung on for a 62-50 victory.
The Demons’ only loss in 14 games was 52-50 to Murray at home on Nov. 27 in a game that did not count in the Bluegrass Conference. Murray, now 16-1, hosts Lamoni again Tuesday for the conference game. A lot is at stake.
“In all reality, it’s for the conference title and the winner of that game probably gets the No. 1 seed in the district,” said Murray coach Darin Wookey. “But, regardless of what happens, we’ll be one and two. It’s going to be another war, we know that.”
Lamoni coach Ryan Olson, basking in the glow of his team’s tournament championship, concurred.
“We have to turn around on Tuesday and give it the same kind of effort, the same kind of team play,” Olson said. “It feels amazing to win here. If you’ve never been to a Murray-Lamoni game you should come. You can cut the tension with a butter knife. There wasn’t a seat in the house.”
With the bleachers filled and standing-room fans jammed into the corners, Lamoni fans were the first to erupt as the Demons burst to a 17-6 lead in the opening minutes.
Trailing 21-12 at the quarter, Murray fought back to within three at halftime, 30-27.
“We were happy at halftime because even though we were down, it felt like the game was going in our favor,” Wookey said.
Cody Scroggie and Austin Halls took turns making slick assists to each other on three straight possessions as Murray inched in front, 40-38, six minutes into the second half.
But, rather than build on that lead, the Mustangs stayed even until falling behind again, 51-45, midway through the fourth period.
“It comes down to making stops when you need to,” Wookey said.
Lamoni made free throws down the stretch and turned a seven-point game (55-48) with two minutes left into the final 12-point margin.
Jeremy Deemer, Lamoni’s 6-foot-7 center, scored 20 points and 6-5 Tim Brunner added 17.
Murray was cold from long range, going 3-25 from 3-point range and 20-60 overall from the field, and 7-12 at the free throw line. Halls finished with a hard-earned 18 points and Scroggie added 16. Both were faceguarded in Lamoni’s triangle-and-two defense.
“We just did not hit the open shots tonight and they did,” Wookey said. “We couldn’t sustain anyting on the defensive end of the floor because of foul trouble. They played a great game. We will need to play better and smarter on Tuesday and I expect that we will.”
Lamoni had better ballhandling down the stretch than the early-season loss to the Mustangs.
“We had time to work on a few things, and came out and played good defense tonight,” Olson said. “We’re just coming together as a team. Murray is a really good team. You have to do a lot of things right to beat them. You have to get the ball out of the hands of Halls and Scroggie.”
Halls scored 27 points, Scroggie added 24 and Pat Kilmer had 15 as Murray beat Diagonal in the semifinals Friday, 89-35. The Mustangs had 21 steals, led by Halls’ six and Sam Rockhold with five. Blake Butler scored 14 points for Diagonal.
Moulton-Udell defeated Diagonal 56-44 in the boys consolation game. In the girls tourney, Murray rolled past Melcher-Dallas 50-25 in the consolation game, and Twin Cedars knocked off Moravia 48-36 for the title.
LAMONI (62) — Jeremy Deemer 7 6-9 20, Tim Brunner 2 0-0 5, Jackson Carr 3 4-4 11, Caleb Heltenberg 3 1-2 7, Beau Bjorland 2 0-0 5, William Ansong 1 0-0 2. Totals — 20 17-26 62. 3-point goals — 5 (Deemer 2, Brunner 1, Bjorland 1, Carr 1). Team fouls — 14. Fouled out — None.
MURRAY (50) — Austin Halls 6 5-8 18, Cody Scroggie 7 0-2 16, Sam Rockhold 3 2-2 8, Matt Johnston 3 0-0 6, Andrew Rider 1 0-0 2. Totals — 20 7-12 50. 3-point goals — 3-25 (Scroggie 2, Halls 1). FG shooting — 20-60 (33.3 percent). Rebounds — 25 (Rockhold 8, Matt Johnston 4, Halls 4). Assists — 9 (Halls 6, Scroggie 3). Steals — 6 (Halls 3, Rockhold 3). Turnovers — 9. Team fouls — 19. Fouled out — None.
Lamoni — 21 30 45 62
Murray — 12 27 44 50