Rice had hoped to be the team to unseat Kerens at the Kiwanis Classic. For 16 minutes, it looked like the Bulldogs had a chance.
Then the second half started.
Kerens played like a team that’s been to many championship teams, polishing off Rice, 80-50, Friday night in the first boys semifinal. Nate Betts had 35 points to lead the Bobcats (8-5), who will face the Blooming Grove-Mildred winner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the title.
Rice (11-2) will play in the third place game at 4:30.
Brandon Ward added 19 for the Bobcats, 13 in the third. Sim Nexar led Rice with 18 points, and Danieal Areaga had 16.
Betts had 10 points in the first three minutes of the game as Kerens built a 12-7 lead. He had 14 in the first as the Bobcats led, 20-17. Rice stayed close in the first half behind Artega (12 points) and Nezar (10), and trailed 32-29 at the break. The Bulldogs led briefly, 26-24, but Kerens answered with an 8-0 run, kick-started by Betts’ third three-pointer of the half.
In the third period, Brandon Ward had the hot hand for the Bobcats, scoring the team’s first 10 points as the lead swelled to 48-34 with just under four minutes left in the period. Rice couldn’t buy a bucket for most of the third, and trailed 54-34 with 1:15 left before Nexar buried an off-balance three to stop the bleeding.
Kerens owned a 24-8 edge in the third, with Ward accounting for 13 of the Bobcats’ points, and built a 56-37 lead going into the fourth.
Blooming Grove 66, Mildred 54
The Lions started firing 3s early and by the time they were finished they had made 10 bombs from five different players, including four 3s from Daniel Pelzel, who hit three of them in the first quarter when the Lions scored all 15 of their points on five 3s. Pelzel finished the night with 18 points and Tyler Lewis, who hit three treys, including back-to-back 3s in the third quarter, scored nine points. Dalton Blake hit a 3 in the first quarter and finished with nine points and Brody Owens hit a 3 for his only points of the night. Juanya Pyburn came off the bench and scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth for Blooming Grove (13-1). The Lions, whose only loss came on a tip-in against Rice in the Frost Tournament, meet Kerens for the title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We make a lot of 3s,’’ said Blooming Gove Coach Ben Kinnison, who wasn’t surprised to see his kids fill it up from long range. “We made 17 in one game and 12 in another. We average about seven or eight a game.’’
Mildred had an early lead and was up 20-15 after the first quarter, but the Eagles had trouble making shots and watched Blooming Grove take over the game in the third when the Lions built a 42-26 lead before Mildred finished with a 9-1 run to keep it close. Mildred had a chance in the fourth and when Connor Hill hit back-to-back 3s, the Eagles closed to 48-43 with 5:10 left, but Pyburn took over and scored Blooming Grove’s next seven points to lift the Lions to a 58-47 lead with 3:43 left.
Mildred was led by Jace Butler’s 19 points. Russell Holden scored 12 and Mikey Muncey added nine for the Eagles (8-7).
Frost 36, Mildred 14: Jae Moore scored 19 points and Frost held Mildred to seven points through three quarters to breeze into the girls finals. Moore had 12 in the first period, as the Lady Bears (13-1) built a 14-2 lead.
Diana Rios added eight for the Lady Bears, and Madison Revill had six. Only three Lady Eagles scored, as Morgan McCreary and Allison Heirholzer each had five. Shelby Adamson scored four.
Both teams found the second period scoring a challenge, as each managed two points, Frost’s coming on Revill free throws. In the third, Rios and Moore each had four as the Lady Bears stretch their lead to 26-7.
Hubbard 74, Milford 22: Every Hubbard player scored as the Jaguars (7-5) easily coasted to the consolation finals. D’Warren Simmons scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, while Trey Henderson was a little more balanced in scoring 17, scoring nine in the first 16 minutes, eight in the second half.
Hubbard led 42-12 at the break, and 67-18 going into the fourth. Freshman Devonaty Williams led Milford (0-4) with 10 points.
Frost 53, Dawson 23: There was nothing cold about Frost’s Polar Bears Friday as they hit four of their first six shots and shot 53 percent (15 for 28) from the floor in the first half to build a 30-12 lead over Dawson and coasted home to reach the consolation final.
Colton Clayton led Frost with 18 points and Isiah Belcher dropped in 12, including three steal-and-fast-break drives. Tyler Stevenso added eight and Kobe ailey scored all six of his points in Frost’s big first quarter. Dawson was led by Justin Gray, who hit two 3’s and finished with six points.
Teague 66, Rice 13: Kaitlin Collins had all of her 13 points in the first period as Teague rushed out to a 24-5 lead and took control of the game. Alie Watkins led the Lady Lions (12-5) with 16, and 11 of the 12 players suited up scored. Teague outscored Rice 19-0 in the third.
Branisha Connor had four points to lead the Lady Bulldogs, who fell to 2-12. Ruby Ramirez added three.
Blooming Grove 48, Dawson 25: Hannah Southard swished a trio of three pointers in the first half as Blooming Grove built a 24-13 halftime lead. She ended the night with a game-high 18 points as the Lady Lions (6-7) moved into the consolations finals. There were 61 free throws in the game, 33 by Dawson (4-10), and only 28 makes. There were also 21 tie balls.
Brittany Nichols and Tre Wiggins each had eight for the Lady Lions, who led 35-17 going into the fourth. Kaylee Martinez led Dawson with eight.