ORAN, Mo. -- Advance boys basketball coach Andrew Halford preaches defense and rebounding. Thursday night, his team practiced what he preaches.
Advance turned up the defensive pressure to open the second half of its game against Oran, outscoring the Eagles 19-12 in the third quarter on its way to a 71-56 victory in the semifinals of the Oran Invitatioal.
Advance (2-0) used a 9-2 run at the beginning of the third period to open a 36-25 advantage. And when the host Eagles pulled within 46-39 when Kody Moore converted a lob pass on an inbounds play shortly into the final period, the Hornets countered with an 8-2 spurt to push the lead back to double digits.
"Our big thing we talk about all the time is defense and rebounding," Halford said. "We preach it and preach it and preach it. If you do that, you'll be in a good position."
Advance held its lead by limiting Oran to one shot for nearly six minutes in the final quarter. When the Eagles' Alex Heuring finally converted an offensive rebound with 2:12 left, the Hornets led by 11 at 60-49 and salted the game away at the free throw line.
"They played with more intensity than we did from start to end," Oran coach Joe Shoemaker said. "They killed us on the boards and I thought that was a big factor in the game.
"We made a little run, but then we gave up a breakaway layup and then turned the ball over, and that was it."
Another factor was the way Advance handled Oran's defensive pressure, particularly guards Tyler Middleton and Lane Below. Middleton, a senior, scored 14 points but was also instrumental in getting ball upcourt against the Eagles' press. Below, a junior, led all scorers with 24 points, including 12 in the final period when he continually drove the lane from the wing.
"They (Oran) like to get up on you and pressure the ball a lot," Below said. "You just have to attack it. Coach always tells us to take it if we can take it to the basket."
Continually slicing the lane, Below either got a layup or drew a foul. Six of his points in the final frame came from the free throw line.
"We tried to get the ball in the middle and looked for the gaps to beat their press," Middleton said. "Coach tells us to always be under control."
Ethan Barr added 15 points for Advance, but his 6-foot-4 presence defensively were just as important as he gobbled up rebounds and held Oran to one shot.
"We always know we have him underneath to help make a stop," Middleton said.
Curtis Guilliland had 10 points for the Hornets.
Hunter Schlosser led Oran (1-1) with 22 points while Heuring added 11 and Seth Ressel 10.
Advance will face Scott City Central, 91-67 victors over Malden, in tonight's final at 8 p.m. Oran faces Malden in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m.
Consolation semifinal Chaffee 81, Bell City 67
Peyton Montgomery and Charlie Montgomery each scored 22 points as Chaffee held off Bell City 81-67 in a consolation semifinal of the Oran Tournament.
Chaffee led by three, 52-49, heading into the final period but outscored Bell City 29-18 in the final frame.
Jared Yates topped Bell City with 22 points, while McKenzie Vires added 20.