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Owls grab Stover Tournament championship

Monday, January 9, 2012

(Photo)
Five points in the fourth quarter from junior Zach Bishop (33) helped the Owls grab their first tournament title in six years.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
STOVER -- Before heading south to play for the Stover Tournament boys' championship Saturday, Marshall junior Zach Bishop expressed a quiet confidence.

"We'll get it done," he claimed, a vow which some might see as false bravado considering that the Owls' basketball program had not played for a title since winning its district in 2006.

Bishop and the Birds made good on his promise, though, by beating the School of the Osage, 50-46, for their third win in a row -- only the second time that has happened during the three-year watch of head coach Cody Leonard.

It didn't come easily, the Indians getting out to a five-point first-quarter lead behind eight points from senior Dylan McNerney -- who wound up as the tourney's "most valuable player." However, they weren't able to add to that margin, junior Jake Dillon knocking down a three-pointer and making a lay-up and junior Alex Maupin connecting from outside during the second period as Marshall went into halftime with a 24-22 edge.

Leonard said it seemed like "the lead changed hands with every basket" of the third frame, which ended with the teams knotted up at 34-34.

Despite a pair of bombs from Osage senior Mack Murray, the Owls crept ahead during the fourth quarter. Freshman Connor Cooley scored 10 of his game-high 18 points during the final stanza as Marshall took a slim lead into the final minute.

Missing the front end of a pair of one-and-one opportunities from the free-throw line made matters dicey for the Owls, but they were ahead by three points when Bishop stepped to the line with four seconds remaining.

He made one of two attempts and Leonard told the defense to stand still while McNerney took the ball down-court for a final shot, his three at the buzzer coming up empty.

McNerney wound up with 12 points, while Murray and junior Adam Hill each scored 10 for Osage (4-5).

Maupin had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists for Marshall and was named -- along with Cooley -- the all-tournament team. Bishop added nine points and six boards and sophomore Zach Glassmaker collected six rebounds and came up with three steals -- among 11 for the Owls (4-7), who only committed four turnovers.

For a group which Leonard admits is "ridiculously small and awfully young" -- with three freshmen playing significant minutes -- capturing any kind of trophy is an achievement and a boost to self-esteem. Marshall will try to build on that during NCMC play, which resumes Tuesday with a home contest against Kirksville.


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Congratulations to Coach Leonard and the Owls program. Keep it up!

-- Posted by fvsol on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 10:38 PM


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