By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
STANBERRY - A tournament championship between No. 3 Mound City and an 11-3 North Andrew team was as appealing as advertised early on.
Both teams hitting big shots, punching and counter-punching and a tight score at half.
Then Mound City, led by senior Gage Salsbury, flipped a switch and it was all but over.
With Tony Osburn being double-guarded at all costs, the Panthers' took it upon themselves to look for (and make) big shots from all other areas.
"It took us awhile to get going," Salsbury said. "We have guys that can score in high volumes besides Tony. We just had to get the other guys going."
Salsbury buried four three-pointers in the second half and five on the afternoon.
Coupled with some high-flying dunks from Landon Poppa and Tony Osburn, the Panthers (12-0) pulled away in a 71-49 win over North Andrew (11-4) on Saturday afternoon in the Stanberry Invitational Championship.
"They were trying to double Tony and we got the ball to some shooters and Gage hit threes," head coach Ryan Osburn said. "Gage had to be the guy to step up and I said 'you guys are going to be wide open, so knock 'em down.' And he did. Gage is a tough matchup, especially when Landon and Tony get to the basket and kick the ball out."
Wil Young, Keaton Zembles and Connor Derr all made three-pointers in the first half. Those were timely, as Tony was held to just four points in the first 16 minutes.
By the second half, Tony found his stroke, scoring 11 in the final two quarters, including a pair of threes and a dunk. In all, eight Panthers found the scoring column Saturday.
"If we're going to be as good as I think we can be, those other guys have to shoot the ball when they're open and take advantage of the defense trying to shut down our other players," Coach Osburn said.
Mound City outscored North Andrew 27-10 in the third quarter, but the Cardinals didn't go down quietly. Senior Tanner McDaniel, who's been a scoring machine all season, still managed a game-high 29 points, including four made threes. Junior Owen Graham scored 12.
"Tanner is obviously a really good scorer," Salsbury said. "We have Landon (Poppa), who's also pretty athletic and big, so he can guard Owen (Graham) pretty well. I thought we played really well any time we guarded Tanner.
These teams know each other's strengths and weaknesses quite well. North Andrew and Mound City scrimmaged against each other 20 or so times this summer. There could be more high-stakes battles between these two quite soon, but the respect between both coaches and programs remains strong.
"I consider Wade (Bryson) a close coaching friend," Osburn said. "We send each other texts all the time and lean on each other for advice. I cheer for them when they're not playing us. We've played them in the summer several years in a row. Always two good teams playing as hard as we can. A great rivalry, I think."
Mound City 71 - 13, 17, 27, 14
North Andrew 49 - 10, 14, 10, 15
Mound City scorers - Gage Salsbury 18, Landon Poppa - 17, Tony Osburn - 15, Wil Young - 7, Lane Zembles - 4, Connor Derr - 3, Keaton Zembles - 3, William Rother - 2.
North Andrew scorers - Tanner McDaniel - 29, Owen - Graham - 12, Clayton Linville - 4, Hayden Ecker - 2, Keaton Hannah - 2.