Thayer's Ricky Smith struck for a game-high 19 points, but it was the Bernie Mules who advanced to the state quarterfinals with a 57-41 victory over the Bobcats in the Class 2 sectionals March 9 at Poplar Bluff High School.
Thayer's season ends with an 18-12 record.
The Mules (36-4), ranked fourth in Class 2, jumped in front on the game's opening hoop and never trailed against the Cats.
Smith racked up Thayer's first eight points in the game, but the first of five 3-pointers from Bernie's Cameron Shipman staked the Mules to a 16-8 lead late in the first.
Jeremy Cabrales (four points) hit a pair of charity tosses with 16 ticks left, leaving Bernie on top 18-10 after one.
The Mules extended their lead to 27-12 with a 9-2 run early in the second.
Dylan Dennis (six points) used a free throw to halt the Bernie run, but Sammy Walker used a pair of old-fashioned 3-point plays to push the Mules in front 33-16.
Austin Henry (nine points) sank a layup at the halftime buzzer to send the teams to intermission with Bernie holding a 33-18 advantage.
Thayer's defensive pressure began to get to the Mules in the third, as the Cats held Bernie without a field goal until the 3:25 mark of the frame.
Henry and Smith both hit jumpers early in the third, while Jared Foley (three points) added a free throw, pulling Thayer within 35-23.
Although the Bobcats outscored Bernie 8-5 in the third, the Mules still held a 38-26 lead going into the final frame.
And in that frame, Shipman (17 points) made sure the Cats would claw no closer.
He hit four straight 3-pointers for Bernie, three coming in a span of 1:17, keeping the Mules in front, as Bernie earned a trip to the quarterfinals with the 57-41 victory.