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Hartville Eagles win state title

Complete run to Class 2 crown with win over Weaubleau at Mizzou Arena


The focus was clear for the Hartville Eagles’ basketball team after their season ended a year ago with a disappointing fourth place finish in the Final Four. They had unfinished business and quickly began a journey to finish that business a year later focused on playing their way back into the Class 2 state semifinals.

They completed that journey last Thursday evening at the Mizzou Arena when they ran way from a 29-win Weaubleau Tigers’ squad in the Class 2 state championship game, 60-42. This came one day after they defeated quality 17-win South Pemiscot program in the semifinals by 17 points, 44-27.

“From the moment that they got here, they were on a business trip,” said Hartville head coach Brett Reed. “They just had the mindset that they refused to lose. And from tip to buzzer, they played a great game of basketball, probably one of our best, and that’s how you beat a quality team and a well-coached team that we just did.”

For Coach Reed and his players, the win provided an emotional moment during the post game press conference as there was time to reflect on the reason behind the Eagles’ pink shirts that read “#Play for Jami.” Coach Reed’s mom, Jami Reed, passed away after her bout with cancer earlier in the season.

“I can’t tell you how much it motivated them, though I think I know, but I can tell you for me, these guys have done more for me than I can probably ever do for them throughout this journey when my mom passed Christmas Eve,” Coach Reed said. “There’s no doubt she was here tonight. Last thing she told me before she passed away was we were going to win another one and that she loved me. How she knew that I don’t know, but she did. She was with these guys tonight for sure.”

Senior Grant Culver was happy that his team pulled out the win to complete their journey to becoming the top team in Class 2 and redeeming themselves from last year’s Final Four appearance.

“It means so much to this team and everything we went through this year,” Culver said. “It’s a great feeling.”

One of the challenges the Eagles faced this year was when they lost senior point guard Logan Simpson to a season-ending injury. After the Eagles celebrated on the court with the state title, players and coaches alike were sure to make Simpson feel the love of the celebration.

“When our point guard Logan, when he went down in mid-January, there was a lot of people that counted us out, and probably rightfully so because of how important Logan was to our team and what he did in getting us into our offense, one of our better defenders,” Coach Reed said. “So we had a couple of sophomores and probably more than that, three or four sophomores, that stepped in and filled those roles. That’s kind of the Hartville mentality, it’s next man up. Somebody goes down, somebody else has got a job to do and these guys did that perfectly.”

In the state championship game, it was a southwest Missouri showdown with a Weaubleau team that had just knocked off defending champion Salisbury in the semifinals by nine points.

A big reason for the Tigers’ upset was the play of their point guard Gage Johnson, who finished with 39 points against the Panthers.

Johnson would go on to play all but six seconds in the finals, but was held to just 10 first-half points and made 8-of-17 shots from the field for 22 total points in the contest.

“I thought we did a good job on him, Payton (Cogdill) did a great job on him,” Coach Reed noted. “…We were obviously in some foul trouble and had to have some guys step up and guard him that probably were not use to guarding that quality of player…Collectively, we did a really great job. He’s a great player…You hold somebody to 42 (as a team), you give yourself a chance to win every night.”

It was a 6-5 ball game early when the Eagles began to take over the contest. They first ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run as Payton Cogdill hit a big 3-pointer. He scored seven of Hartville’s 12 points in the opening frame. Then the run was pushed to 17-0 into the second quarter as Boone Garrison and Culver hit big 3-point shots. Jalon Cryer’s steal followed by a fast-break lay-up gave Hartville a 23-5 edge just 2:36 into the second quarter. Garrison would add a 3-point play to push the lead to 20 points.

Gus Sinning came off the bench and scored two points for a 31-8 lead.

Hartville entered halftime up, 33-14, after making 12-of-19 shots from the field and six 3-pointers. The Eagles kept the foot on accelerator in the third quarter by starting the second half with a 9-2 run to go up, 42-17.

Weaubleau would not go away though in the fourth quarter as they went on a 15-2 run to cut the lead to just 12 points with 4:02 remaining.

Cryer then hit a pair of free throws and Garrison scored a basket to push the lead back to 16 points to help the Eagles regain the momentum.

When the buzzer sounded, Coach Reed took a knee in the bench area as he was filled with emotion.

The players sprinted to center court to celebrate their third state championship in the last five seasons.

Culver led Hartville with 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks; Payton Cogdill tallied 15 points, three rebounds and two assists; Cryer added 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals; Garrison scored 12 points, four assists and one steal; Jackson Ward had three points, two rebounds and two assists; and Sinning had two points, two assists and one rebound.

The Eagles ended the year at 29-2 overall.