Rockets advance past Mustangs

Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont freshman Brooks Moore (middle) drives to the basket while being defended by Davis County teammates Carson Zeitler (left) and Dalton Reeves (right) during the Class 2A high school boys basketball district first round contest Monday night in Eddyville.

EDDYVILLE — Brooks Moore would hate to go up against Ethan Davis.

Fortunately for Moore, he and Davis where the same black and gold Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont uniforms. It was Noah Zmolek and Dalton Reeves on Monday that had to do battle in post with Davis on Monday as the Rockets hosted Davis County in a Class 2A boys basketball district tournament opener for the second straight year.

While Moore scored a team-best 22 points in his postseason debut, it was Davis that led EBF to a decisive rebounding edge. The Rocket junior grabbed 14 rebounds while scoring 20 points, helping EBF earn a 71-57 win over the Mustangs.

"It's district play. Everyone wants to win," Moore said. "I'm sure they (Davis County) gave it all. We wanted it more than anybody. That's all we have out there. Nobody wants it more than us."

That effort was on display early on when EBF's first two points came as a result of three straight offensive rebounds from Jared McCrea. The Rockets (11-11) found a way to get the basketball in the hoop at several key moments, including 12 of the 20 points scored by Davis coming as a result of offensive rebounds.

"When I got the ball inside, all I was trying to do was trying to get it high off the glass," Davis said. "I was just trying to get my team back into it. If that meant getting offensive rebounds, it got us more shots. More shots means more points. The more points, the better."

Davis County (8-13) used defense to create instant offense early in the game, collecting four steals in the first quarter that led to four breakaway lay-ups. Alex Lynch and Dalton Reeves collected the first two, giving the Mustangs an early lead.

EBF answered with consecutive 3-pointers by Riley Flaig and Thane Alexander, jumping out to a 12-8 lead. Moore, younger brother of former all-state EBF standout Trey Moore, scored his first four postseason points later in the 21-point opening period for the Rockets, helping give EBF a 21-12 lead.

"My brother has put a lot of work in with me. I appreciate it a lot because it's starting show a little bit this year," Moore said. "The best advice he gave me was to keep my head in it, don't let anything get to you and treat it like any other game."

That calm mentality allowed EBF to withstand several answering runs by Davis County, including a 9-0 run early in the second quarter that tied the score at 23-23. Thane Alexander gave Davis County a dose of their own medicine with a pair of steals that led to a pair of breakaway baskets, including a final score seconds before the end of the second quarter that put the Rockets on top 33-29 at the half.

"Whenever we needed a basket, we found a basket," EBF head boys basketball coach Travis Stout said. "Everyone chipped in to make sure all those little things that needed to be done were done to help our team be successful."

Davis County caught EBF for the final time early in the second half, scoring the first four points of the third quarter including a steal and tying lay-up from Alex Lynch. That's when Davis really stepped up, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds during an 8-0 run for the Rockets, making it tough in the paint on the Mustangs defensively while helped EBF regain the lead for good.

"All we had to do was try to keep (Noah) Zmolek or (Dalton) Reeves from getting the ball in the paint," Davis said. "Reeves and Zmolek played a lot better this time. It definitely motivated me to to raise my game."

Reeves led Davis County with a game-high 23 points while Zmolek added 22 points for the Mustangs. Alexander helped put the game out of reach for the Rockets with 18 points, including a 3-point play and a corner 3-pointer while finding Moore for a 3-pointer later in the fourth as EBF opened a 16-point lead.

After earning a third straight win over Davis County on Monday, EBF will try to avoid a third straight loss this season against two-time reigning South Central Conference champion Albia. The Rockets and Blue Demons face off in the 2A district semifinals at Albia on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

"Blake Chance is such a good player. He's so hard to contain," Stout said previewing Thursday's contest. "We've got to try and not let the other players hurt us too much. Drew Chance is very consistent. Brayden Messamaker can get hot from 3-point range. We've got to try to do well defensively on everyone outside of their big three."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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