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Looking to add hardware: Crusaders looking to claim crowns

Zach Rockers and the Helias Crusaders look to capture their third straight district title, as they take on Eldon tonight.

Zach Rockers and the Helias Crusaders look to capture their third straight district title, as they take on Eldon tonight. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

The Helias Crusaders and Lady Crusaders will be looking to claim Class 4 District 10 Tournament crowns tonight in Eldon.

The girls game will start at 6 p.m. between Helias (10-15) and School of the Osage (18-7). The Lady Crusaders will be bidding to capture their first district basketball title since the 2001-02 season.

“This is something that hasn’t been done around here for a while and I think this group is ready to go play a championship game,” Lady Crusaders coach Doug Light said.

Helias advanced to the title game with a 46-35 semifinal win Tuesday night over Eldon. The second-seeded Lady Crusaders jumped out of a 25-17 halftime lead over the host school on their way to the win.

Olivia Hackmann finished with 12 points to lead the Lady Crusaders, while Arielle Chambers added 11.

Top-seeded School of the Osage, which spent a couple of weeks in the state rankings earlier this season, got past Fulton 49-35 in its semifinal.

“They play hard, they’re a team that’s balanced with talented kids,” Light said.

Sophomore guard Summer Dean tossed in a game-high 25 points for the Lady Indians, who rebounded after losing four of their last five games to close the regular season.

“It’s not just about stopping her, it’s about playing good team defense,” Light said.

The Lady Crusaders and Lady Indians, who were 3-2 in the Tri-County Conference, did not play in the regular season.

The boys contest between top-seeded Helias (18-7, ranked No. 10) and second-seeded Eldon (15-11) will follow at 7:30 p.m.

The Crusaders are expecting a tough test from the host school.

“I think Eldon guards very hard,” Helias coach Josh Buffington said. “They’re a physical basketball team, they’re guard-oriented and they shoot the ball well.”

Helias advanced with a 57-32 semifinal win Wednesday night over Fulton. Zach Rockers led three Crusaders in double figures with 20 points.

“They’re very sound defensively in the halfcourt,” Buffington said. “They will apply a lot of ball pressure and try to take Zach out of the equation. But we’ve seen that a lot this year, and in the big games we’ve won, they’ve been team wins where we’ve done it collectively. We will have to do that (tonight).”

Helias finished with a 29-19 edge in rebounds in the win. Buffington believes the Crusaders will need a similar effort tonight.

“One of my main concerns with Eldon is keeping them off the glass,” he said. “They’re relentless on the boards, so we’ll have to do a good job on our defensive glass. At the same time, we’re going to have to be relentless on offensive boards when we miss to create extra opportunities.”

Eldon got past Boonville 53-49 in its semifinal Wednesday night. The Mustangs, with Ryan Kliethermes scoring 17 pints and John Hall adding 14, hit 10 3-pointers in the victory.

The Crusaders are aiming for their third consecutive district title.

The District 10 champions will face the District 9 winners in the sectional round Wednesday at Fleming Fieldhouse. The District 9 winners will also be determined tonight, with Sullivan and Borgia meeting in the girls game and Borgia squaring off against St. Clair in the boys contest.

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