Senior Brendon Barr is settling nicely into his role as the undisputed leader of the new-look Roff Tigers.
The only player on the current roster to see any significant playing time during Roff’s run to the Class B state title last season, Barr was the area’s leading scorer through the first month of the season, and Monday night he was a one-man wrecking crew against Wanette in the opening round of the Pontotoc Conference Tournament.
Barr scored 29 points, pulled down 10 rebounds to complete a nice double-double and added five of his team’s seven steals to lead the second-seeded Tigers to a tougher-than-expected 44-35 victory over No. 7 seed Wanette. In the other first-round boys game played Monday, host and top seed Allen raced to a 35-2 lead after one quarter and cruised past No. 8 seed Calvin, 81-26.
Roff’s victory lifted the Tigers — the two-time defending tournament champions — into a semifinal showdown Friday against either Vanoss or Tupelo, who will meet in a 3-6 contest at 6:20 p.m. tonight. Allen will face the winner of a 9 p.m. game between 5-3 Stonewall (the current leader in the conference standings at 3-0) and 6-2 Asher that could be the highlight of the first round on either side of the bracket.
Wanette will meet the Tupelo-Vanoss loser at 6:20 p.m. Wednesday in a loser’s bracket contest, and Calvin will face the Asher-Stonewall loser at 9 p.m. in another elimination game.
Roff 44, Wanette 35
Roff (4-4) led by as many as 12 points (23-11) in the second quarter and carried a 27-19 lead to the locker room at halftime but managed just two third-quarter field goals — a 3-pointer by Tim Wallen at the 6:20 mark and Wallen’s layup (both off assists from point guard Remington Pope) with just seven seconds left — as lead shrank to 32-26 heading to the fourth.
Wanette closed to within three (32-29) on a putback of an offensive rebound by Trever Teague (one of his six rebounds in the second half) and a free throw by Kelby Wood in the first 2:01 of the final period but couldn’t get closer. Teague’s putback of another offensive rebound with 3:35 remaining made it a four-point game (38-34) for the final time, and although Roff managed just one field goal — a driving layup by Barr with 55 seconds left — the rest of the way and also missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities (on the same possession), a Teague free throw was the only point scored by Wanette down the stretch.
“That was about as ugly a game as I’ve ever been a part of,” Roff coach Kale Simon said after seeing his club hit 13-of-36 shots while holding Wanette to 10 field goals in 39 tries, including just 3-of-22 in the second half. “The only positive is that now we have three days to practice.
“I think part of it was the layoff (Roff’s previous game was an upset of Dale on Nov. 23), but we weren’t fully engaged to come out and play tonight,” he added. “We could never find our rhythm. We were choppy in every aspect of the game. We did win, so at least we get to work on some things with a ‘W’ under our belt.”
Barr scored seven of Roff’s 12 points as the Tigers built a seven-point lead after one quarter, and he added 10 more in the second period before going 0-for-4 in the third. He missed the final 1:06 of the period and the first 1:33 of the fourth after being fouled and hitting the floor hard while making a pass, but he returned to score all but one of the Tigers’ 12 fourth-quarter points. Barr’s night could have been even bigger if two of his made free throws hadn’t been nullified by lane violations.
Wallen scored nine points and added two assists, but no other Roff player had more than three points in the victory.
Dylan Graves scored 10 points to lead a more balanced Wanette attack, and he added four rebounds. Bo Starks had seven points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Teague scored seven points (five in the fourth quarter) to go with his seven rebounds off the bench.
Allen 81, Calvin 26
Allen (3-1) erased any doubt with a 27-0 blitz capped by Luke Mullicane’s conventional three-point play with 3:33 left in the opening quarter. Conner Johnson also had a 3-pointer and added a four-point play when he was fouled on his second 3-pointer of the quarter at the 5:01 mark, Lane Mills also had a three-point play, and Brady Caldwell scored eight of the game’s first 11 points — on a 3-pointer , a three-point play and a fast-break layup, all in a span of 66 seconds.
Caldwell scored 12 of his game-high 18 points, and Johnson and Mills added seven points apiece to help the Mustangs to their huge 33-point lead after one quarter, and the five Allen starters — Caldwell, Johnson, Mullicane, Mills and Brett Edens — and sixth man Grant Rowsey combined for 19 of their team’s 32 field goals and for all of its points as the Mustangs raced to a 52-6 lead at intermission. Rowsey played into the third quarter and finished with 14 points, but none of Allen’s starters played in the second half.
Johnson and Mills added nine points, and Zayne Erickson had eight points off the bench in the win.
Calvin (0-8) connected on just 10 of 49 field goal attempts (including 3-of-20 against Allen’s starting five). Blade Hood hit three 3-pointers (in 14 attempts) and led the Bulldogs with 10 points.