It’s been a good run, but not an easy run, to the cusp of the final four for Summit Christian Academy. And that’s just fine for Eagles coach Jake Kates.
SCA now stands one win away from reaching the Missouri Class 3 boys state basketball tournament after beating Lamar 72-60 March 5 in a sectional game at Sedalia. On Saturday March 8, the Eagles, 24-5, will meet Crossroads Conference rival Barstow at 6 p.m. in a Class 3 quarterfinal at the Independence Events Center, with the winner advancing on to the final four March 13 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia.
“We’ve been tested as we’ve gone through this thing,” Kates said. “I think that will benefit us Saturday.”
After battling through a tough district tournament the week before, SCA had to weather another difficult test against Lamar. Hampered by the Cardinals’ size and rugged halfcourt game, SCA found itself down 10 points in the first quarter and trailed by 12 at halftime.
“We started out slow and didn’t play to our scouting reports,” Kates said. “We were sloppy in the first half and I think we had some nerves. But once we got out in transition and started pushing the ball up the floor, that’s when the game really changed.”
SCA pulled within three by the end of the third quarter, and then buried Lamar 31-16 in the fourth quarter. Taurin Hughes, the Eagles career scoring leader, led the way with 27 points while Wade Johnson had 14 points and Harrison Shearer finished with 13.
“We’ve got something special going on right now,” Kates said. “It’s kind of hard to express, but what we did last night after we were down 12 at halftime is a testament to these kids being willing to do what it takes to win.”
Now SCA will have to get past Barstow to keep its special season going. The Knights, 25-2, handed the Eagles their only conference loss, 71-59 last January at Barstow.
But the Eagles are a different team now, Kates said, with more depth and players contributing on the floor. More importantly, he has six seniors intent on keeping the good times rolling.
“Barstow is a younger team and very talented, but I’ve got six guys that want to play another game,” Kates said. That’s one of the benefits we have over Barstow. They know they’ve got time.”
After traveling to Richmond for district play and the trip to Sedalia, the Eagles are happy to be playing closer to home and against their biggest rival. Not that they would mind another road trip next week.
“We’re happy to play in our backyard,” Kates said. “We’re really looking forward to Saturday. It’s going to be a fun time.”