Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - Updated: 8:50 AMJoppa’s Rangers went into Egyptian’s Mid-Winter Tournament on a roll. But they knew that the competition would be just a tad sterner than some of the teams they had faced coming in.
Century, Johnston City, Elverado, which was the fourth meeting for these two, and Lovejoy Academy from the St. Louis area all figured to be good measuring sticks for the young Rangers.
The Rangers hit the ground running with Century and held the lead for most of the game, in fact their first quarter performance was as good as I’ve seen from them, before falling 74-71 in a barn burner.
The trio of Kaleb Cox, Hunter Johnson and “Griff” Greer lit up the Centurions with crisp interior passing and put the Rangers on top 22-13 after eight minutes.
But some soft passing led to a rash of turnovers and Century climbed right back into the game in the second quarter and trailed just 42-39 at the half.
Century claimed a brief lead at 45-44 but Joppa clawed back to hold a 58-56 lead entering the final frame.
That last eight minutes had a little of everything — from a flurry of three pointers to a thunderous dunk from Cox. But Century didn’t back down and behind Josh Hart, Markus Davis and Christian Halvorsen climbed into the lead. When Greer fouled out with just over a minute to go, Braxton Lewis hit the floor for Joppa and splashed three triples to keep Joppa’s hopes alive, but Century hit their free tosses when they had to and held off the Rangers eking out the 74-71 win.
Joppa had three boys in double figures with Johnson at 17, Cox at 16, Thomas Kendall at 13, Jase Hutchason at 10 and Lewis, with his three quick treys, at 9 points.
The Rangers then rolled past the host school with a 50-38 win over Egyptian.
Lovejoy Academy was next and despite a 29-point performance from A. Wallace, they were no real match as the Rangers rolled up a 14 point, 77-63 win.
Joppa had four boys in double figures as Cox, Greer, Johnson and Kendall all reached double digit scoring.
Johnston City was the first of two on Saturday and the Indians from J.C. put a tough loss on Joppa. The Rangers dropped a hard-fought 71-65 game and the loss, coupled with just a few hours to recuperate, resulted in a 61-41 beat-down at the hands of their newfound arch rival Elverado.
In the Johnston City game, there was an abundance of three pointers attempted and made as Kendall threw down six for Joppa while a quartet of Indians connected on seven. Joppa led 51-46 at the third horn but the J.C. duo of Case Selby and E. J. Thompson got hot in the final frame propelling the Indians to a fourth quarter 14 point advantage cementing a 71-65 win.
The Elverado game got out of hand early as the Falcons raced to a 20-7 first quarter lead and never looked back. The duo of Zee Johnson and Aquantez Penn combined for 40 points and four of the eight three pointers Elverado made.
Cox and Johnson were the only effective scorers for Joppa with 15 and 11 respectively.
Johnson was named to the All Tournament Team.