Eagles hold off Raiders at tourney

Special to the JournalJanuary 17, 2014 

When it comes to tournament play, everyone loves an underdog. So when the eighth seeded Pembroke Hill Raiders were able to stay with the No. 1 seed Summit Christian Academy Eagles, the Pleasant Hill gym became the loudest place in Cass County.

The Eagles ran up individual leads of 7, 11 and 13 (twice). Each time the Raiders mounted a comeback, eventually making it a one-point contest with 2:36 left in the game.

“Pembroke is tough because they just keep fighting back, they never give up on defense or offense,” Eagles senior point guard Wade Johnson said after the game.

Summit Christian had enough left in the tank for one final scoring burst to send Pembroke Hill into the consolation bracket, winning the game 64-55.

Even though SCA is 9-0 and ranked ninth in Missouri Class 3, head coach Jake Kates was not pleased with his teams’ performance.

“At halftime I said, look guys, we prepared for this game. We watched the film and had a game plan – go execute it. With this group we have six seniors. They know what we are supposed to do. It’s just a matter of going and doing it,” said Kates.

Kates is right. The Eagles have no shortage of talent on this year’s team. Each time the Raiders mounted a comeback, Summit Christian only needed a few offensive possessions to rebuild their lead.

“When we go and run our stuff we have guys that can score inside, guys that can score outside, and guys that can score in transition. So when we go, we go,” Kates said.

Summit Christian had three players score in double digits - Greg Nicoll (18 points), Taruin Hughes (18 points) and Johnson (12 points).

The last time the Eagles had a team with this much talent was 2008. Matt Webb anchored an Eagle team that advanced to the Missouri Class 3 final eight of that year. This year’s edition, with six seniors, has more depth and athleticism, and with a little luck, may be playing in the final four this March in Columbia.

“I think we have something special,” Johnson said. “With six seniors we have a lot to play for. I like our chances.”

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