MOBERLY, MO – Enough with the second-half rallies and shots in the final seconds.
Indian Hills reminded fans on Friday what a dominating performance looks like from the Warriors. Tyon Grant-Foster scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, adding 11 rebounds for a double-double, as No. 14 IHCC won going away for a 77-48 win over State fair, completing a season sweep of the Roadrunners, at Moberly Area’s Thanksgiving Classic.
“It felt a little unfamiliar to be in this position late in game,” Indian Hills head men’s basketball coach Hank Plona joked after snapping a streak of four straight games that featured a potential winning shot from the Warriors in the final seconds. “I don’t know if I’ve had four games in a row come down to that, certainly not since I’ve been a head coach. We were up and down in lot of times, but we finally turned our defense to offense and got clicking in the second half.”
Indian Hills shot a season-best 69 percent in the second half, making 20 of 29 field goal attempts. The Warriors scored 31 points in the final 8:35, turning a competitive rematch with the Roadrunners into a blowout.
Grant-Foster, who scored a career-high 33 points in IHCC’s 74-61 win over State Fair on Nov. 9 to close out the Iowa-Missouri Challenge, hit seven of 10 field goals in the second half while adding seven rebounds, four assists and two steals after halftime. It was 20 days earlier that Grant-Foster not only had his best scoring effort against the Roadrunners, but also suffered an ankle injury that the sophomore still hasn’t completely recovered from.
“I feel like I’m probably at about 75 percent right now,” Grant-Foster said. “I’m getting better every day. In this game, I was able to dunk in transition. Last week (at Northwest Florida State), I didn’t real like I could get off my feet.”
Grant-Foster’s ankle still has noticeable swelling, but was in much better shape in the minutes following Friday’s rematch with State Fair compared to the considerable swelling that sidelined the future Kansas Jayhawk for two games. Grant-Foster has turned the negative of the injury into a positive, using certain mobility limitations to help work on other facets of his game.
“It’s actually making me stay more solid on defense. I’m happy about that. I don’t try to gamble as much and focus on playing the man in front of me,” Grant-Foster said. “I know that when I get healthier, I’m going to be able to gamble more. I’ll be able to switch things up if I need to.”
Chris Payton added a career-high 16 points, including a team-best six points in the first half as the Warriors opened a 28-21 halftime lead thanks in part to a late 8-0 run. Payton had two layups during the run and made eight of nine shots including three more high-post spins past defenders.
“Probably the most difficult part of that is making the move and making sure I’m not whistled for a travel,” Payton joked. “That and I try not to get dizzy. Once you get past that, it’s easy to finish off the layup.
“Coach tells me to be aggressive and encourages me to pick my spots. I found moments where the defense was lacking. We were being aggressive on offense. My teammates kept finding me and I kept scoring. It was a team effort.”
Indian Hills nearly doubled up State Fair on the glass, collecting 50 of the 77 rebounds in the game. The Warriors also heated up behind the 3-point arc, going 7-13 in the second half from 3-point territory with five makes leading to 15 points for sophomore guard Chris Childs.
Malcolm Townset scored the first seven points for State Fair (8-4) and finished with a team-high 12 points. While the Roadrunners look to bounce back Saturday against Highland, led by former IHCC assistant coach Chad Boudreau, the 14th-ranked Warriors (7-2) face the 21st-ranked Greyhounds in the finale of MACC’s Bone and Joint Classic at 7 p.m.
“It seems like this point every year is where we come to this game,” Plona said. “The game at Moberly really seems to give us an idea each season about what we’re really made of. If we can build off this effort and have a great day (on Saturday), this could be looked at as the weekend we really came down and found ourselves, but a lot depends on the outcome.”