Cats jam their way to tourney title
Although there was plenty of snow on the ground around the Christmas holidays, it wasn't a snow plow that practically tore down The Pit on the campus of Cabool High School.
Rather it was a group of Bobcats from Thayer High School that inflicted all of the post-holiday damage, as the Cats crushed all comers at the fifth annual Cabool Holiday Tournament, winning the title by dispatching their three opponents by a 25-point average margin of victory.
After breezing through the first two rounds, Thayer (7-0) found itself matched up with the seventh-seeded Winona Wildcats in the tournament finals Dec. 30.
Winona had upset second-seeded Eminence and then Summersville, the number three seed, on its way to set up a second meeting on the year with Thayer. The Bobcats had beaten Winona 69-55 in Thayer's first game of the season a couple of weeks ago.
As it turned out, the Wildcats could only have dreamed of playing Thayer so close once again, as the Bobcats dismantled Winona 59-29 in the title game.
This game was never in doubt, With Thayer holding the Wildcats to just four field goals in the first half of play, thanks to the Bobcats' patented 1-3-1 zone defense.
Thayer hopped on top 14-6 at the end of the first period and was off to the races from there.
Josh Wemlinger passed, shot, dished and dunked his way to tournament MVP honors.
Wemlinger's 17-point output in the first half of play was one more point that the entire Wildcat squad could muster, with Thayer holding a comfortable 36-16 halftime lead. Wemlinger paced the Bobcats in their title-game conquest with a game-high 21.
Aaron Henry (five points) and M.J. Clark ended the first half of play by jacking back-to-back triples for Thayer.
The third period was highlighted by a pair of monstrous thunder dunks by Wemlinger, one a two-hand, behind-the-head, spinning 180 beauty that had even some of the Wildcats shaking their head in amazement.
With Thayer up 54-24 going into the final frame, both benches saw action, with the Bobcats wrapping up a thoroughly dominating performance in the tourney with a 30-point victory.
John Tollenaar and Andrew Eckman tallied seven points apiece for Thayer, while Layne Hawkins and Brett Ward added six points each. Dustin Gaines and Anthony Martin had two points apiece.
In semi-final action, the Cats let the Licking Wildcats hang around for a half before turning on the jets during the second 16 minutes of play, en route to a 66-46 licking of the Wildcats Dec. 29.
Up 14-6 after one, and 29-23 at halftime, Thayer tamed the Wildcats with a 13-4 run late in the third to grab total control, taking a 47-34 lead into the final frame.
Wemlinger's 22 points paced Thayer, while Ward tossed in 13. Eckman tallied 10, and Hawkins nine. Henry and Tollenaar hit for five points apiece.
The Bobcats opened play in the tourney by blasting the Mountain View/Birch Tree Liberty Eagles 70-44 Dec. 28 behind a game-high 25 points from Wemlinger.
Thayer led 20-12 after one and hit cruise control the remainder of the contest on their way to the 26-point win.
Henry added 10 points for Thayer, while Eckman, Hawkins and Ward hit for eight points each. Tollenaar added five, Clark three, Martin two, and Gaines one.