The Mark Twain boys basketball team led Class 3 No. 3 Clark County by 12 points at halftime but ultimately fell 53-42 on Friday night.
The Mark Twain boys basketball team entered the locker room with the best-case scenario it could have dreamed up Friday night against Class 3 No. 3 Clark County.
Mark Twain dominated to net the final 10 points of the first half to take a 29-17 lead into halftime.
But the poised Indians responded with force.
Clark County went on a run of its own for the first 13 points of the third quarter to retake the lead and never looked back, spoiling Mark Twain's courtwarming, 53-42.
The visiting Indians outscored the Tigers 21-3 in the pivotal third quarter to turn a 12-point deficit into a 38-32 lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
“We didn't do a good job executing,” Mark Twain coach Cody McCann said of the second half. “They put a little pressure on us, and we kind of reverted back to some bad habits. We only scored three points in the third quarter. You're not going to win a game scoring three points in a quarter, especially against a team like that.
“We knew they were going to respond. They did, and we didn't.”
Conner Mack knocked down a three for the Indians with 4 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third to give the visitors their first lead since the opening minutes of the night.
Chandler Bevans stepped up to lead Clark County (16-1) with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Kracht delivered a pair of 3-pointers in the third and scored all 12 of his points after halftime.
Grant Peters paved the way for Mark Twain (8-10) with 16 points in the first half on 8-of-8 shooting, but the Tigers 6-foot-7 center managed just a single field goal after the intermission.
Peters finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Mark Twain made just three of 23 shots from the field in the second half after shooting nearly 62 percent (13-for-21) in the first.
“We just challenged them to come out and play like they're capable,” Clark County coach Adam Rung said of his team. “Fortunately, we've got an experienced group, and they did that. Our energy was so much better there in the second half and made it really tough for them.”
Peters took control of the contest in the early going, scoring eight points in the first quarter to help Mark Twain take a 10-9 lead at the end of the period.
A drive by Kaden Elliott, who scored 13 points, gave Mark Twain its biggest lead of the game — 12 points — with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
Jace Barton added all five of his points for the Tigers over the first two quarters of play.
Clark County shot just 7-for-28 (25 percent) from the field in the first half.
“Our defense led us into our offense,” McCann said. “I think we were frustrating them with our defense, and it was carrying over into their defensive end so we were able to do what we wanted — get to the rim and knock down shots. I was extremely happy the way we played in the first half.”
Rung mentioned Mark Twain played with more intensity in the first half than his state-ranked squad.
“We didn't do a good job of coming out with any energy in the first half. We were really flat,” Rung said. “When we got the ball into the high post, we were really effective against their zone, but we, for whatever reason, went away from that.
“Give Mark Twain a lot of credit because they played with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy in that first half, and our kids were just kind of going through motions. They kicked our butt the first half.”
Clark County, however, was the team who made plays when it mattered most, holding Mark Twain without a field goal for a stretch to 6 minutes, 35 seconds between the third and fourth quarters.
Peters, the centerpiece of Tigers second-quarter scoring spree, was unable to even attempt a shot in the second half until the final two minutes of the third quarter.
“We wanted our guys to make it difficult,” Rung said. “In the second half, we were more connected defensively like we've played most of the season.”
Despite the loss, McCann said there are plenty of positives for his team to build upon entering the final three weeks of Eastern Missouri Conference play.
“Going forward, if we play like that the rest of the year, we have a shot at conference, for sure,” the Tigers coach said. “This gives us confidence.”