The elementary boys basketball league has been dominated by the Dibrell Wildcats and Eastside Bulldogs recently, so it wasn’t a shock to see the two teams in the Morrison Ruritan finals Saturday night.
Led by star post Tyler Beaty’s 21 points and 11 rebounds, Eastside defeated Dibrell 57-46 to claim the Ruritan championship for the second straight year.
Eastside was the favorite to win entering last week’s Ruritan tournament. The Bulldogs were already tournament champions once this seaon, having won the Woodbury Invitational early in November.
The Bulldogs and Wildcats each received first-round byes before winning their way into the finals Friday night. Eastside beat Irving College 54-31 in the semifinals while Dibrell downed Morrison 46-35.
The championship game figured to be won by which team got more from its star player as Eastside’s Beaty and Dibrell’s Trey Cantrell have been leading their respective teams for the past three years.
Beaty got the better of the matchup Saturday as Dibrell couldn’t keep the Bulldogs’ top post player off the glass.
Beaty got off to a quick start as he scored on an early putback and sank two fadeaway jumpers to put Eastside up 8-4.
Dibrell closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run though to take the lead. Cantrell was the catalyst as he was able to drive in the lane for two floaters and added an assist to Ethan Stuart.
Dibrell maintained its lead through most of the second quarter as Lee Randolph and Austin Higgins hit shots, but Eastside got a spark from its bench to surge in front.
Jesse Jones entered the game and quickly made an impact for the Bulldogs. Jones connected on a running layup through the lane to tie the game, then caused a turnover which led to a backet for Hunter Hawkins.
A late free throw by Alex Yates made it 20-17 in favor of the Bulldogs at halftime.
The size advantage for Eastside began to show in the second half as the Bulldogs took control of the glass and the game.
Beaty scored seven points in the third quarter, including a three-point play that started a 9-0 run. Dakota Nunley added two baskets during the span while Raleigh Woods scored on a run-out layup.
Hawkins and Beaty each scored in the paint late in the third quarter to make it a 15-point game, but Cantrell kept Dibrell within reach with his outside shooting.
Cantrell buried two 3-pointers in the third quarter, with his second connection from long distance making it a 10-point game right before the end of the period. It would prove to be as close as Dibrell would get though.
Eastside never let the Wildcats creep back in as Woods took over in the final quarter.
Woods scored eight points in the fourth period, most coming off layups where Dibrell turned the ball over against the Eastside press.
Beaty concluded his night by sinking two late free throws to top the 20-point mark and put the Bulldogs up 53-37.
Late 3-pointers by Malachi Barrett and Blaine Wilson couldn’t bring the Wildcats back as Dibrell fell by 11.
Woods finished with 15 points for Eastside, followed by Hawkins with eight, Yates with five, Nunley with four and Mitchell Stembridge and Jones with two points each.
Cantrell led Dibrell with 11 points. Barrett was next with nine while Dillon Jones scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter. Higgins finished with five, followed by Stuart with four, Wilson with three, Randolph, Noah Campbell and Thomas Judkins with two each and Jaeden Pyburn and Travis Bell with one point apiece.