This is beginning to look like one heck of a trend.
If it seems that the Melbourne Bearkatz win every in-season tournament they enter, it's just because lately they do win every in-season tournament they enter.
Case in point; the Bearkatz' 64-54 win over the Southside Southerners in the Lyon College High School Tournament Dec. 13.
This marks the second straight year the Bearkatz have taken the Lyon College title with them back to Melbourne, a title they can put next to their North Ark and Izard County tourney titles from the past couple of years. As a matter of fact, the last time Melbourne lost in a regular season tournament was in 2001 when they fell to Cave City 78-72 in the Lyon College finals.
"Last year we started to look at tournaments a little differently. We try to break them down into mini-brackets of four games," said Bearkatz Head Coach Mike Watson. "If you just look ahead to the semi-finals and finals and don't take care of business in the first rounds, you're in trouble."
The number-one seeded Bearkatz (18-0) had first hand experience of just how tough an opponent awaited them in the finals, having played Southside (16-6) once already this year, coming away with a hard-fought 67-55 victory Oct. 30.
The Bearkatz tried something that the other teams that fell to Southside in the Lyon College tourney didn't do; they attacked the Southerners, the number two seed, from the defensive end of the court, knocking Southside back on their heels early as Melbourne jumped out to a big lead.
This aggressive defensive tone was set from the get-go as Levi Taylor (16 points) rejected a couple of Southerner shots to send a message that Southside's size advantage in the paint might just be neutralized.
Taylor was named to the All-Tournament team for his efforts.
"We wanted to come out aggressively on defense. We saw how they got after Cave City and guarded them hard (in the semi-finals) and we wanted to have that same intensity against them," Watson said. "After our game on Friday (in the semi-final round), we went back to the gym and started working on our defensive game plan for Southside."
While keeping Southside at bay on defense, the high-octane Bearkatz machine was clicking away on offense.
Bradley Hardin hit a 3-pointer for Southside at the 6:08 mark of the first before the Bearkatz sprinted out on a 16-3 run that saw them comfortably in front 22-6 after one.
"Cody (Moser) did a good job slowing down their point guard," Watson commented. "Cody kept him turned around with his back to the basket, and it's hard to get anything going with your point guard not able to get in the flow."
Although they managed just one shot from the field in the first, the Southerners regrouped a little in the second and chipped into Melbourne's lead.
Outscoring Melbourne 19-16 in the second, the first period hole the Southerners found themselves in kept them from swiping the lead in the second, as the Bearkatz took a 38-25 lead to halftime.
The Southside offense found new life after the halftime break, as the Southerners closed the third period on fire with a 9-3 run that saw them trailing by only eight, 48-40, after three.
Enter Jordan Davidson.
Every time it looked like the Southerners would overtake the Bearkatz, Davidson, named Tournament MVP, nailed a big shot to keep Southside at bay.
Davidson busted four big treys in the last period-and-a-half on his way to a game high 27, to keep Southside from making any serious threat at taking the lead.
"Jordan's just a great leader, and an awesome player," Watson said. "There was never any doubt who would get the ball and take the big shots for us. Jordan's just a big game player."
Even with Melbourne's big post presence, Levi Taylor, in a bit of foul trouble after going against Southside's twin towers of Tim Appleget (6-5) and Dylan Schram (6-7), the Bearkatz kept in front.
"When Levi got in some foul problems, we wanted Cody or Jordan with the ball in their hands taking the shots, and they came through," Watson said.
Southside couldn't get any closer than nine points in the fourth period as the Bearkatz put the wraps on the Lyon College Tournament title, 64-54.
In addition to keeping the wraps on Southside's Josh Massey, Cody Moser tossed in nine big points for Melbourne, while Hunter Caraway added eight. Andy Miller tallied two, and Nick Davidson one.