Turnovers trip up Poplar Bluff boys in tournament loss

SEDALIA, Mo. — Down just five at the end of the first quarter Friday, the Poplar Bluff boys basketball team turned the ball over on their first three possessions to start the second and found themselves quickly behind by double digits.

“I think we had more turnovers than shots in the first half,” Mules coach William Duren said.

Kansas City Center pulled away in the second quarter to hand Poplar Bluff a 61-47 loss in the consolation semifinals of the McDonald’s Classic at Smith-Cotton High School.

The Mules (3-7) will play for seventh place at 10 a.m. Saturday against Foundations College Prep of Chicago looking to snap a five-game losing streak.

“At the end of the day, our kids are playing extremely hard, the coaching staff is extremely proud of them,” Durden said. “They’re resilient and they’re working their tails off.

“We just need to figure out a way to finish one of these off.”

Poplar Bluff got baskets from 10 different players in the loss and was led by eight points from Jamarre Sellers. Luke Becker had seven points while Gage Rivers and Joseph Hardimon each chipped in six.

Keyren Spiller, a 6-foot-4 junior, scored 32 points to lead the Yellowjackets (7-5) while Kortez Stevenson added 12 points.

Spiller matched the Mules offense in the first half as Central led 34-18 at the break.

Following a slow start in a loss to the defending MSHSAA Class 5 champions Rock Bridge in the opener Thursday, the Mules kept pace with the Yellowjackets early Friday after falling behind 5-0.

Rivers put the Mules on the board midway through the opening quarter and Poplar Bluff was within a point at the 3:30 mark. Sellers got a steal but the Mules gave it right back and Center scored on consecutive possessions.

Hardimon’s basket pulled the Mules within 13-8 before the end of the quarter.

Keyon Spiller, a freshman, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer before a steal and an offensive rebound helped pad Center’s lead. Following another turnover by the Mules, Keyren Spiller scored to push the margin to 20-8 at the 6:43 mark.

Sellers ended the run with a steal and basket but Keyren Spiller later sank a 3 to start an 8-2 run.

Center led by as much as 21 in the third quarter and took a 47-30 lead into the fourth.

Poplar Bluff got within 14 but Keyren Spiller answered with a 3-pointer and the Mules ended the game on a 4-1 run to set the final margin.

Center sank 19 of 30 free throws while the Mules were 14 of 21 at the line. Poplar Bluff didn’t sink a 3-pointer until Marquis Johnson scored in the final minute.

Poplar Bluff will open SEMO Conference play Tuesday with Jackson in town.

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POPLAR BLUFF (3-7) — Webb 1 0-0 2. Brown 2 0-0 4. Hardimon 2 2-6 6. Kilgore 1 2-3 4. Becker 2 3-4 7. Combs 0. Johnson 1(1) 0-0 3. Rivers 2 2-2 6. Kendle 0. Sellers 2 4-4 8. Campbell 2 0-0 4. Young 1 0-0 2. Brumitt 0 1-2 1. Cravens 0. Totals 16(1) 14-21 47.
CENTER (7-4) — KJ Spiller 11(2) 8-10 32. Maxi 2(1) 0-0 5. Peeler 1 2-2 4. Stevenson 3 6-8 12. Barrett 0. Glenn 0. Carnes 0 1-2 1. Winters 1 0-3 2. Smith 0. Brown 0 1-2 1. K.Spiller 1(1) 1-3 4. Vick 0. Totals: 19(5) 19-30 61.

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