CAMPBELL HILL — Murphysboro closed out its first week of the season undefeated with a 59-45 win over Steeleville on Saturday to win the Trico Invitational and Murphysboro Ernie Bozarth Memorial Tournament.
Murphysboro (5-0) had to hold off several runs by the Warriors by also doubling its lead in the final half of each quarter with long sustained runs.
“I thought we held our composure real well, because they made some good runs and hit some big shots on us, but we closed out every quarter really good,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “But I thought we executed well tonight and took some big steps since Monday.”
Murphysboro opened the tournament with a 50-47 win over Lovejoy, followed by a 70-41 win over Confluence JV, a 39-36 come-from-behind win over Chester and a 66-37 win over North Tech.
The Red Devils were led by tournament MVP Corbin Guthman and all-tournament selections Dezmond Clark, who led the game with a season-high 26 points, and Jamarr McZeke.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Guthman said. “They gave me the ball and I was able to make a few shots this week. We have a young team that grew up real quick this week.”
Steeleville (4-1) opened with a 61-41 win over Harrisburg, a 53-45 win over Sparta, a 58-18 win over Red Bud and a 54-23 win over Trico. The Warriors were led by Owen Gross with 15 points and Austin Hagel with 12.
Murphysboro jumped out to an 8-0 lead to open the game when Steeleville missed its first 12 shots from the field. Hagel finally found the bottom of the net with 1:10 left in the first quarter on a 3-pointer to get the Warriors on the scoreboard. The Warriors finished the first quarter hitting just 1-of-15 shots from the field and finished by hitting 15-of-37 for the rest of the game.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter obviously,” said Steeleville coach Aaron Fiene. “I thought they were good shots, but we just didn’t hit them tonight and that’s going to happen sometimes, but we played our hearts out. It was a game of runs in the second, third and fourth quarters, but we just didn’t finish. Give Murphy credit for that.”
However, Murphysboro closed out the first quarter with a 3-pointer by Guthman nine seconds later and a putback by Jameirr Frazier with 0.4 seconds left to give the Red Devils a 10-point lead heading into the second quarter.
The Warriors opened the second hitting three of their first four shots in addition to two free throws to cut the lead to six. But once again the Red Devils rebuilt their lead to 10 on two foul shots by Clark and a basket from under the net by Guthman.
Steeleville (4-1) rallied back by drawing three consecutive fouls, with A.J. Stearns, Jordan Wilson, and Jacob Sutton making all six free throw attempts to cut the lead four with 1:42 remaining.
However, Murphysboro made another patented end-of-the-quarter run on a 3-pointer by Logan Evans, a one-handed jumper in the lane by Clark and a driving layup at the buzzer by Devin Eovaldi to take a 27-16 lead into halftime.
Steeleville opened the third quarter with three consecutive baskets by Hagel, Gross and a putback by Brad Mevert to cut the lead to five, but once again the Red Devils closed out strong with Clark getting it going on a steal and a layup, followed by a jumper from the lane.
“Tonight it was coming to me,” Clark said. “I don’t know where it was coming from, but it just started to fall in, so I just kept going. We had a game plan set to just keep pushing the pace and control the game as much as we can, and it worked.”
Gross cut the lead to seven on a jumper from the free throw line, but McZeke drained a three from right side with 13 seconds left to give the Red Devils a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth opened like the last two, with Steeleville scoring first on a 3-pointer by Gross. The Warriors continued to make a run, cutting the lead to five on a steal by Gross that led to a layup by Hagel. The lead was still five with 4:22 remaining after Clark and Gross traded threes.
But for the fourth and final time, the Red Devils closed out strong, finishing the game with a 17-8 run to win by 14 points.
Filling out the All-Tournament Team were Hagle and Gross from Steeleville; Tony Williams from Sparta; Drake Bollman and Ian Reith from Chester; Nick Compton from Trico; Robert Gaithers from Lovejoy; Will Sanders from Harrisburg; and Jaden Birkner from Red Bud.
Chester beat Sparta, 50-33, in the third place game; Lovejoy beat Trico, 71-55, in the fifth place game; Harrisburg won by forfeit over Confluence JV in the seventh place game; and North Tech beat Red Bud, 57-36, in the ninth place game.