GOREVILLE — The field of the eight-team Class 1A Crab Orchard Regional was whittled down to six after top-seeded Goreville and No. 7 seed Meridian both posted wins Monday night.
The Blackcats, who improved to 30-2 with an 89-44 whipping of Galatia, now face the Bobcats (12-19) in Wednesday night's first semifinal game at 6 p.m.
Meridian advanced with a 84-58 win over Gallatin County in Monday's second game.
The winners of Tuesday night's games — Crab Orchard plays Carrier Mills-Stonefort and Pope County battles Hardin County — will meet in the other semifinal Wednesday night.
Every single one of Goreville's 14 eligible players scored led by 6-foot-2 senior Landon Albright's 17 points. Briley Dunn followed with 11 and Trent Glidewell also hit double figures with 10, while Carter Bishop (9) and Kanon Webb (8) came close.
Goreville head coach Todd Tripp had mixed emotions about having to play in the first round. But in the end, he described the game as a "glorified practice" for his statewide-recognized squad.
"Part of me was a little upset that we didn't get a bye as a No. 1 seed, which I think we deserved it and you're supposed to get it, but part of me also likes this game here," Tripp said. "You can get your feet wet a little and everybody can score."
The Blackcats jumped out to a 13-3 lead, but the Bearcats got to within 17-12 on a layup by A.J. Hankins — just after Tripp had called timeout to wake his team up.
Goreville did respond with a 26-2 run after Hankins' basket, a flurry that included back-to-back layups by Albright and two straight from Dunn. It was capped by a 3-pointer from Bishop that made it 43-14.
"I thought we moved the ball really well. We were finding people early and that's how we got going," Tripp said. "We had them outsized but we finally ran the floor and got the ball where we wanted to."
Goreville's lead was 47-25 at the break and a 14-0 run to start the third quarter, capped by a bomb from Luke Brown, inflated the margin quickly. Another trey by Bishop and a three-point play by Dunn made it 74-30.
"It was a good first game for us this week," Tripp said. "Now we just have to keep it rolling."
Braxton Lane led Galatia with 12 points and Hankins had 10. Lane and Hankins were the only seniors for the Bearcats, who finished 4-25.
In the second game, freshman Roderic Gatewood Jr. led five Meridian players in double figures with 24 points as the Bobcats streaked past Gallatin County.
Gatewood had just three of those points in the first quarter, when Meridian jumped out to a 19-9 lead with six different players marking the scorebook.