The Melissa Cardinals had a split in their first two games of the Highway 5 Classic, losing to Commerce in the opener on Dec. 8 at the Birdcage.
The Cards bounced back later that day to beat Frisco Reedy, 52-45. Commerce got off to a big early lead and the Cardinals could never recover, getting the lead down to just three at one point in the third quarter.
Freshman guard Kaedric Cobbs had seven of the Cardinals’ first nine points, including 3-for-3 from the free-throw line after being fouled on a shot attempt from beyond the arc. He finished with 15 points in the losing effort.
A steal and a drive for a basket by sophomore Junior Castleberry with just over three minutes left in the third cut the Commerce lead to just three.
A basket by junior Cole McCraw early in the fourth again made it a three-point game, but Commerce kept coming back.
The Tigers made 4-of-6 from the charity stripe late to secure the win.
Senior Gunnar Murphy added eight points for Melissa and sophomore Matt Holloway, freshman Brendon Lewis and Castleberry each finished with five.
Melissa 52, Frisco Reedy 45
The Cardinals came back in game two to beat Frisco Reedy, 52-45 in the Highway 5 Classic on Dec. 8.
Castleberry scored a dozen points in the second quarter and finished with 17 to lead the Cardinal attack.
Murphy scored 11 points and freshman Kaedric Cobbs added nine.
Melissa outscored the Lions, 30-21 in the first half.
Another 3-ball by Castleberry and a 7-for-13 effort from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter was enough to get the Cardinals the win.
The Cardinals complete pool play Friday with a 6:30 game against Dallas Thunder.
Dallas Thunder 63, Melissa 46
There are 16 boys’ teams entered in the 2016 Highway 5 Classic basketball tournament and Cardinal coach Eric Benton considered the Dallas Thunder one of the best. The home-school team pulled away in the third quarter, on the way to a 63-46 win over the Cardinals on Dec. 9 at the Birdcage.
“They really posed some match up problems for us with their size, and we didn’t have extended stretches of consistent play,” Benton said.
The Cardinals fell behind by 17 points early in the first period before cutting the lead to nine at the half..
The Thunder outscored Melissa 22-8 in the third period.
Senior Gunnar Murphy scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the fourth period as the Cardinals battled back. Melissa had an 18-12 advantage in the final eight minutes, but that big third quarter by the Thunder could not be matched.
Melissa 65, Legacy Christian 60
Relying on the 3-point shot works wonders for you on the basketball court, if the ball goes in.
Legacy Christian canned four straight from beyond the arc early in the third period to take a 39-38 lead over Melissa in a Dec. 10 game at Melissa.
The Cardinals pounded the ball inside over the next six minutes to take a 48-40 lead, then held on for a 65-60 win.
“We like paint touches,” Melissa coach Eric Benton said. “We preach to our guards, get the ball inside either by passes or dribble penetration and they did it late in the game today.”
Legacy had a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, taking a 15-10 lead after the opening eight.
A 3-ball by sophomore guard Matt Holloway and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line by sophomore Junior Calloway highlighted the Cardinal offense in the opening period.
Melissa tied the game 15-15 on back-to-back steals and makes by freshman Brendon Lewis. A basket and two free throws by Holloway helped build a 25-18 lead for the Cardinals.
Legacy Christian came back to tie the game at 27-27 before a basket by junior Josh Wood sent the teams to the break with Melissa on top 29-27.
That hot-shooting stretch to open the third by Legacy was matched by Melissa as Murphy put back an offensive rebound, and Lewis scored five points in a couple of possessions.
A basket by Kaedric Cobbs and another by Murphy gave the Cardinals a 44-40 lead heading into the final frame.
Two great plays by the Cardinals to start that period as Murphy grabbed a defensive rebound and whipped a long pass to a wide-open Holloway for a deuce.
Holloway repaid the dime by finding Murphy in the low block to give the Cards a six point lead.
Legacy scored five straight, making it a one point game, but a spin move by Lewis and a nice catch and finish by Murphy on a pass through traffic by Cobbs pushed the lead back to five.
Almost everything else came from the free-throw line.
Legacy made 6-of-6 from the stripe and Melissa made 5-of-7 to hold on for the 65-60 win.
“It’s an interesting dynamic with a new coach, new system and new terminology, but we are seeing daily progress, Benton said. “Coach Sadler liked to play man defense, we prefer match-up zone and it takes some time for the game to slow down for our young kids like Holloway and Lewis.”
The game slowed down enough to get a big win for the Cardinals that day.