Takeaways from the Blue and Gold Tournament's first half of opening-round games

·6 min read

The first half of the opening day of the 2021 Blue and Gold Tournament has come to an end and we've already seen an entertaining start to the holiday staple.

The first few games included competitive matchups and expected dominance from the best teams in the area.

Note that the second half of the tournament slate was too late for our print deadline. For the second half, visit News-Leader.com where you can find the latest scores, takeaways and everything you need to know about the 2021 Blue and Gold Tournament.

2021 BLUE AND GOLD TOURNAMENT COVERAGE

Nixa shatters single-game 3-point record

Nixa's Colin Ruffin goes up for a basket as the Eagles take on the Republic Tigers on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at Republic High School.
Nixa's Colin Ruffin goes up for a basket as the Eagles take on the Republic Tigers on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at Republic High School.

The Eagles came into the Blue Division as a heavy favorite and they might even be bigger favorites to win it all after their performance on Monday morning.

In an 86-24 win over Mount Vernon, the Eagles shattered the single-game 3-point record with 19. The previous record was set by Marshfield in 2012 with 15.

The standout from the game was senior guard Colin Ruffin who scored 30 points while knocking down eight 3's. Four of his makes from outside came in the third quarter as he outscored the Mountaineers by himself.

Bolivar looked like a No. 1 seed

Kyle Pock, of Bolivar, looks to pass the ball during the Liberators game against Smith Cotton in the opening round of the Willard Basketball Classic at Willard High School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.
Kyle Pock, of Bolivar, looks to pass the ball during the Liberators game against Smith Cotton in the opening round of the Willard Basketball Classic at Willard High School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.

There aren't many teams that will compete with Bolivar's length this week and it showed why it's the top seed of the Gold Division in its dominant win over Aurora.

Great play from superstar Kyle Pock led the Liberators to a 70-40 win over the Houn Dawgs. The junior scored 23 points.

When Pock wasn't scoring, you could count on Lukas Gabani to get a bucket to fall instead. He scored 13 in what proved to be a breeze for one of the best teams in the area.

Bolivar's going to be a tough outing for everyone. There might be one or two players in the entire tournament that can match up with Pock but the Liberators still have so much length all over the court that they'll have the size advantage every outing.

Greenwood is playing better team basketball

Greenwood's Nic Burri shoots against Republic during the finals of the Gold Division Championship at JQH Arena in Springfield on December 31
Greenwood's Nic Burri shoots against Republic during the finals of the Gold Division Championship at JQH Arena in Springfield on December 31

When Aminu Mohammed played for Greenwood, no one could blame the Blue Jays for focusing the team around him. He might be the best player to ever come through the area and he's turning into a star already as a freshman at Georgetown.

In the post-Aminu era at Greenwood, the Blue Jays needed to find a different way to play. So far, it's working and Greenwood still appears to be one of the better programs in the area.

Led by sophomore guard Tanner Jones, the Blue Jays are playing their best team basketball in years. With fellow experienced standouts like Tommy Pinegar and Nic Burri back, Greenwood is a smart team that is playing a pretty style of basketball.

In a 66-43 win over Spokane, the Blue Jays dominated from the opening tip with Burri leading the way 23 points. Jones added 19.

Catholic looks as good as the area's elite

Lost in the Nixas, Bolivars and Kickapoos of the world is a team like Catholic that has one of the area's better starts to the season.

Catholic is undefeated and has an experienced team, one of the area's best players, a Division I athlete and plenty of length that makes it a very good defensive team.

In Catholic's 73-46 win over Clever, the Irish had a balanced attack behind Howell who did most of the scoring. That's been the recipe to Catholic's success as it's 10-0 to start the season. Howell has scored 20 or more in every game but two after finishing Monday with 30.

Looking ahead to the postseason, Catholic is in a Class 5 district that also includes a solid Glendale team. The Irish are capable of winning it and making a postseason run.

Keep an eye on Catholic this season and in this tournament. There are a lot of experienced pieces that will have them playing at a high level in the coming months.

Central knocks off No. 8 Willow Springs in Gold Division

The Springfield Catholic Fightin Irish take on the Clever Blue Jays in the first round of the Blue and Gold Tournament at Hammons Student Center on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.
The Springfield Catholic Fightin Irish take on the Clever Blue Jays in the first round of the Blue and Gold Tournament at Hammons Student Center on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.

Halftime adjustments were the name of the game for Central as it pulled away in the second half for an impressive 61-42 win over No. 8 Willow Springs in the first game of the day.

The Bulldogs trailed by five at halftime as they struggled to contain Willow Springs forward Scottie Osborn who scored 14 points through two quarters. Central also had turnover problems and wasn't getting many boards.

It all changed in the second half with the Bulldogs playing good team basketball, getting offensive rebounds and second-chance points, shutting down Osborn and a breakout half from their star sophomore.

Antonio Starks-Fewell took over in the second quarter while scoring 14 of his 16 points. An impressive shooting performance combined with his ability to create for others helped lead his team to the upset.

Central has a lot of talent on a pretty deep and athletic roster. If it plays together, this is going to be a dangerous team these next few days.

First-round results

Blue Division

  • No. 8 Fair Grove 68, Ash Grove 61

  • No. 1 Nixa 86, Mount Vernon 24

  • Marshfield 50, No. 5 Skyline 44

  • No. 4 Catholic 73, Clever 46

  • No. 7 Branson vs. Mountain Grove — DEADLINE

  • No. 2 Kickapoo vs. Houston — DEADLINE

  • No. 6 Hartville vs. Reeds Spring — DEADLINE

  • No. 3 Willard vs. West Plains — DEADLINE

Gold Division

  • Central 61, No. 8 Willow Springs 42

  • No. 1 Bolivar 70, Aurora 40

  • No. 5 Greenwood 66, Spokane 43

  • No. 4 Strafford 60, Camdenton 36

  • No. 7 Rogersville vs. Crane — DEADLINE

  • No. 2 Ozark vs. Lebanon — DEADLINE

  • No. 6 Republic vs. Buffalo — DEADLINE

  • No. 3 Ava vs. Stockton — DEADLINE

Quarterfinal schedule

Blue Division winner's (JQH)

  • 9:30 a.m. — No. 1 Nixa vs. No. 8 Fair Grove

  • 11 a.m. — No. 4 Catholic vs. Marshfield

  • 12:30 p.m. — DEADLINE

  • 2 p.m. — DEADLINE

Gold Division winner's (JQH)

  • 5 p.m. — No. 1 Bolivar vs. Central

  • 6:30 p.m. — No. 4 Strafford vs. No. 5 Greenwood

  • 8 p.m. — DEADLINE

  • 9:30 p.m. — DEADLINE

Blue Division consolation (Hammons)

  • 9:30 a.m. — Ash Grove vs. Mount Vernon

  • 11 a.m. — No. 5 Skyline vs. Clever

  • 12:30 p.m. — DEADLINE

  • 2 p.m. — DEADLINE

Gold Division consolation (Hammons)

  • 5 p.m. — No. 8 Willow Springs vs. Aurora

  • 6:30 p.m. — Spokane vs. Camdenton

  • 8 p.m. — DEADLINE

  • 9:30 p.m. — DEADLINE

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at wwheeler@news-leader.com or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He's also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Blue and Gold Tournament 2021 takeaways from opening-round games

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