MURRAY — Tuesday night’s battle between Murray and Lamoni had all the makings of the final piece of a Hollywood blockbuster trilogy.
Murray tasted victory in the first installment, 52-50. But Lamoni ended a nine-game winning streak in the series by Murray with a 62-50 win on Saturday in the second installment, during the Bluegrass Conference Tournament finals.
In Tuesday night’s third installment, the two teams battled for a leg up in the regular season conference title race, and likely for the top seed come district tournament time.
The Mustangs made a statement in the trilogy-ender, beating the Demons 92-60 in front of an overflow crowd in Jerry Brown Gymnasium.
Murray improved to 17-1 for the season, while Lamoni dropped to 13-2. The only losses for either team have come to each other.
“Saturday night, we had some upset boys in the locker room,” Murray head coach Darin Wookey said. “We felt like we left some stuff out there on the floor that we didn’t get accomplished, and they were not going to let that happen tonight. We came out intense, on fire, and that’s what you have to do to beat those guys.”
Murray jumped out to a 13-5 lead through the first 4:30 of the ballgame, and continued cruising from there in a fast-paced, physical first half that saw both teams get into foul trouble.
The Mustangs opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run, capped off when Cody Scroggie collected a steal, made a layup and drew a foul to complete the three-point play, putting Murray up 30-18.
“About the time we got up by about 12, I started to see the momentum shift,” Scroggie said. “And then we really put our foot on the throttle and kept going.”
After three free throws from Lamoni cut the lead to 30-21, Murray responded with a 19-8 run to close the half. Scroggie scored 11 of his 24 points during that run, and Sam Rockhold and Austin Halls each scored four points during the stretch.
Murray held a 49-29 lead at halftime.
Halls scored a game-high 30 points. Rockhold added 12.
“Tom (Halls) and Cody, they really played well,” Wookey said. “They carried us and Sam Rockhold had a heck of a ballgame in there, too. Pat Kilmer played well, Matt Johnston played well. We had a complete effort. To win it 92-60, you have to have a complete team effort, and we did tonight.”
The win started on defense for the Mustangs, collecting nine steals as a team, many of which led to transition buckets.
Murray also held Lamoni’s Jeremy Deemer, who averages 22.5 points per game, to just five points on one made field goal.
“Defensively, we did a really good job tonight,” Wookey said. “The key on (Deemer) is getting positioning, and I thought we were able to do that, which caused him to get some fouls early and made him come out of the game. That’s probably the most he’s sat in his lifetime, right there. That was a big key, was getting him over there sitting on the bench.”
Murray, which shot 3-of-25 on 3-pointers in the loss on Saturday, rebounded to shoot 6-of-16 on 3-pointers on Tuesday. The Mustangs also shot 38-of-43 from the free throw line in the win, including 16-of-18 by Halls, 9-of-9 by Scroggie and Eddie Otto hitting the first two free throws he had attempted all season.
Lamoni, meanwhile, shot just 14-of-28 from the free throw line.
“We know we’re better shooters than that (Saturday),” Wookey said. I don’t know what the problem was on Saturday night, but we knew they weren’t going down. Cody stepped up and hit some big ones tonight. I thought he played outstanding.”
“A lot of guys are staying after practice and they’re shooting after practice,” Scroggie added. “They’re getting their fair share of shots in, and when we come out and contribute like this, it’s awesome.”
Murray can’t celebrate for too long, however, as the second-place team from the Pride of Iowa Conference — Interstate 35 — comes to town on Thursday.
Like any good script for a Hollywood trilogy, it wouldn’t be right if this chapter didn’t end with a cliffhanger, leaving open the possibility of another meeting on down the road — potentially in the district final.
“It feels really good, but you have to come out and prepare for the next game,” Scroggie said about Tuesday’s win. “And, we know we’ll probably play them again, so we have to keep practicing and playing hard.”
LAMONI (60) — Tim Brunner 6 7-11 21, Jackson Carr 6 0-0 15, Beau Bjorlannd 2 2-2 8, Jeremy Deemer 1 3-4 5, Caleb Heltenberg 1 2-6 4, Teddy Palmer 1 0-2 2, Sergio Oviedo Cardenas 1 0-1 2, Austin Tull 1 0-0 2. Totals — 19 14-28 60. 3-point goals — 7 (Carr 3, Bjorland 2, Brunner 2). Team fouls — 28. Fouled out — Carr, Bjorland, Brunner, Daniel Ansong.
Murray (92) — Austin Halls 6 16-18 30, Cody Scroggie 6 9-9 24, Sam Rockhold 5 2-2 12, Pat Kilmer 2 2-2 7, Andrew Rider 0 4-6 4, Eddie Otto 1 2-2 4, Matt Johnston 2 0-0 4, Devin Shields 1 0-0 2, Corbin Simmons 1 0-0 2, Scott Funke 1 0-0 2, Matt Rockhold 0 1-2 1. Totals — 25 36-41 92. 3-point goals — 6 (Scroggie 3, Halls 2, Kilmer 1). FG shooting — 25-49 (51 percent). Rebounds — 28 (Rider 5, Halls 4, S. Rockhold 4, Kilmer 4, Scroggie 4, Simmons 3, Otto 2). Assists — 12 (Halls 5, Scroggie 4). Steals — 9 (Scroggie 4, Halls 3). Blocked shots — 4 (Johnston 2). Turnovers — 8. Team fouls — 23. Fouled out — Johnston.
Lamoni — 18 29 38 60
Murray — 21 49 61 92