GLEN ROSE - When the month of February rolls around, there is just one thing on the mind of high school basketball teams; postseason play. For the Harmony Grove Cardinals, the 5-3A 2012-13 district tournament looms in the near future.
On Tuesday, the Cardinals traveled just up the street to Glen Rose for an intense rivalry-renewing game with the Beavers. After busting a four-game skid with a win over eStem on Friday, Harmony Grove added a second straight win Tuesday, defeating Glen Rose handily, 75-55.
“I thought we really struggled defensively tonight,” Head Coach Dexter Hendrix said. “We knew we were going to get Glen Rose’s best punch on Senior Night, especially playing us. Glen Rose played well for three quarters and we really struggled on the defensive end.”
Earlier this season, Harmony Grove thumped Glen Rose at home, winning 55-28. But on Tuesday, the Beavers had plans for a different outcome. Harmony Grove’s big man Hayden Burchfield started the scoring with a monster dunk to give the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead.
After a tying bucket from Glen Rose, followed by a lead-taking shot from Cardinals’ forward Ryan Roush, Burchfield was hit with a technical foul for hanging on the rim after losing the handle on a dunk attempt.
Both teams continued to trade buckets in the first with the score in the Cardinals’ favor by one at 16-15 late in the first. Harmony Grove put together a late run, capped with a buzzer-beating layup from Roush to give the Cardinals a 21-15 advantage at the end of one.
Burchfield was sent to the sidelines for much of the first quarter after collecting two fouls in the opening eight minutes.
With the game moving along nicely in the second quarter, the storyline was much the same as the first with neither team pulling out to a comfortable lead at anytime. However, after missing three 3-pointers in the first, Harmony Grove drained three long balls in the second with sophomore Drake Wilks sinking two.
Still with the game close, Harmony Grove took a decent 10-point lead into the break, leading 43-33.
“We just couldn’t get it together on the defensive end,” Hendrix said. “We have got to go back to work tomorrow and really improve on that.”
Up by 10 entering the third quarter, the Cardinals did what they have done all year – put together a big third quarter to take a comfortable lead into the fourth quarter. After keeping the score around 10, the Beavers began to turn the ball over, allowing Harmony Grove to move out to a 57-39 lead late in the third. The Cardinals outscored Glen Rose 14-8 in the third to take a 57-41 lead into the final quarter of play.
Hoping for a big push, Glen Rose cut its deficit to 12 near the midway point of the fourth. But the Cardinals were just too much to handle with Wilks draining shots from everywhere on the floor. After an 18-14 fourth quarter in favor of Harmony Grove, the Cardinals walked away with a 20-point, 75-55 win.
Despite the mediocre defense, the scoring ability of the Cardinals was the real story. Wilks led the Cardinals with a huge night, scoring 21 in the win. Harmony Grove had four in double digits with Burchfield, senior point guard Gabe Richard and sophomore Bryce Sossamon combining for 37 in the victory. Burchfield ended the game with four fouls, 15 points, four dunks and four boards. Roush scored seven while grabbing eight rebounds.
“Offensively, we played pretty well,” Hendrix said. “We had a couple guys playing aggressive and making things happen on offense. But we still have to get better on the defensive end of the floor.”
Harmony Grove shot 50 percent from the field, knocking down 25 of 50 attempts on Tuesday.
Dillon LeQuieu led Glen Rose with 22, followed by Jeremy Doll with 20. Ultimately, 22 turnovers doomed the Beavers in the loss.
With the win, Harmony Grove moves to 13-10 overall and 7-6 in conference play. The Cardinals still have one game left with Perryville at home on Friday. Harmony Grove had to reschedule the game for Friday after snow earlier in the year forced the postponement.
“It is going to be very tough on Friday,” Hendrix said. “Perryville is playing very well right now. They have gotten better and better each game and they are very well-coached. It will definitely be a tough game at home, so hopefully we can get better from tonight and improve the next couple of days in practice and be ready on Friday night.”
Harmony Grove beat Perryville on the road 63-34 to begin conference earlier this season. The Cardinals are still looking to finish the regular season strong and are hoping to take the four seed in the district tournament.
Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The district tournament starts Monday at Episcopal.