FAIRFAX, Mo. —Few teams have been as battle-tested through the first half of the season as the Rock Port Blue Jays and despite a 2-7 record, they are a better team than their record indicates.
They put that big-game experience on display against Nodaway-Holt (3-8) on Monday night in the first round of the Fairfax Invitational. Rock Port (3-7) earned a 69-42 victory.
“We have to be more physical,” Nodaway-Holt coach Michael Barbosa said. “We are not the biggest team and it showed with Rock Port. They have some big, strong kids out there.”
The Jays opened up a quick 11-2 lead as Nodaway-Holt was struggling to create any good looks at the basket. Trojan sophomore Blake Bohannon scored his first points of the game and senior Brilyn DeVers added a free throw to trim the lead to 11-5, but Rock Port closed the quarter on an 8-2 run for a 19-7 advantage.
The two teams traded points early in the second quarter, but Jagger Freemyer 3-pointer followed by an Aiden Burke bucket put the Blue Jays up by 20 points late in the quarter. They maintained that margin for a 40-20 lead at the intermission.
“In the end, we have to play as a team to be successful, and I am trying to preach that to the kids,” Barbosa said. “We are not all 6’5 kids who can dunk the ball easily — we are all 5’10 kids who can almost touch the rim. … We need to box out and get the displacement calls to get us down there to hopefully make free throws.”
The Trojans were never able to cut into the margin in the third quarter and the lead grew to 30 points in the fourth quarter.
Nodaway-Holt was led in scoring by 18 points from Bohannon and 14 for DeVers, but the Trojans struggled to find a reliable third option as Gavin Leeper and Wyatt Wakely each had four points and Noah Farnan had two.
Rock Port was led by Holden Farmer’s 31 points. Trey Peshek added 13 while Burke had nine.
“(Farmer) just dominated us inside with post moves and with rebounding,” Barbosa said. “We have got to be more physical.”
The Blue Jays advance to the semifinals on Wednesday where they will draw top-seeded St. Joseph Christian. The fifth-seeded Trojans drop into the consolation semifinals where they will get eighth-seeded North Nodaway on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“We have to bring the positive culture,” Barbosa said. “… We need to know that we can easily fix our simple mistakes and be successful.”