In a one-day tournament that was rescheduled from Dec. 17 because of weather, the North Callaway varsity boys basketball team faced Paris on Saturday at Mexico in the second game on the Gary Filbert Classic and won 51-49.
"This was a grind it out game. Both of us played last night on the road, so wee knew today was going to be a battle of will power," said North Callaway coach Mathias Miller. "The first half ended at 19-18 and it was kind of a slugfest. We couldn't really get in a rhythm offensively. Neither team was up by more than four points, I don't think, the whole game. The fourth quarter was back-and-forth. The offense picked up a little. They'd hit a shot. We'd hit a shot."
Because this game wasn't decided until the final buzzer, North Callaway came out of a late timeout with a set play in mind. Paris, in turn, replied with a tight zone defense that just wasn't quite tight enough. The Thunderbirds then posted a stop on the other end of the court before getting called for a lane violation that would have given them a four-point lead. Instead, they had to make one more defensive stand and were fortunate enough to do exactly that.
"We found a way to close it out in the last two minutes. We hot some big shots and we made enough stops," Miller said. "Paris is a good defensive team. They're very fundamentally sound and we had a hard time getting into our rhythm. We passed up shots that were there and tried to attack at time when it wasn't there. That's kind of a hard balance offensively. In the second half we hit our shots when we started to attack and that kind of opened up our offense a little bit. Paris made us work for everything."
Leading North Callaway to its seventh straight victory was Khobi Kellerman with 16 points, Coy Danison had 13 points and Tully Thomsen scored 10 with three steals. Dawson Wright also pulled down five rebounds."
"I told our boys you want to be out their in position so that with one defensive stop you win the game," said Miller. "That's what we did, but today we had to get two of them."
The Thunderbirds also took the court at Silex on Friday and won 48-26 as Thomsen put up 16 points, four steals and three assists. Danison also charted 14 points, four steals and three assists and Gabe Cash chipped in with seven rebounds and four steals.
"We did a good job defensively the entire game," Miller said. "Offensively, e couldn't get going until the fourth because they're such a physical team."
For Silex, 2-15 overall, 1-8 Eastern Missouri Conference, Jake Adams and Charles Turbeyville managed seven points each.
North Callaway, 13-10 overall, hosts Mark Twain on Tuesday.