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story.lead_photo.caption Jake Closser of Blair Oaks leaps to try to block a pass by Fatima's Jacob Vanderfeltz during Tuesday night's game in Wardsville. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

WARDSVILLE — Blair Oaks and Fatima went in spurts for much of Tuesday's game.

Then in the closing seconds of the third quarter, the Falcons took control with the help of a frantic shot.

Fatima shut the door on a drive to the bucket and closed on the perimeter to deny a 3-pointer. The ball ended up in the hands of Brysan Jeffries, who quickly released the ball and banked it in from the wing to beat the buzzer.

That was part of a 13-4 run that secured a 75-61 win against the Comets.

"It's kind of a prayer," Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said of the shot. (Jake) Closser made that extra pass because they ran two guys at him, and Brysan had good clock awareness to get that shot off."

Blair Oaks was ahead 53-41 with eight minutes remaining and led 60-45 three minutes into the fourth quarter after Quinn Kusgen hit from the corner.

The Falcons made 11-of-19 from beyond the arc.

"Anytime you make shots that makes things look better," Fick said. "Our ball movement was better, we found the open guys, made the extra pass a couple times."

Kusgen's third make in five tries from deep gave Blair Oaks its largest lead at 67-48 with 3:54 remaining. Kusgen scored 19 points.

"He missed some layups early on that were tough shots in traffic," Fick said. "I was proud of him for moving on, didn't worry about that and kept playing."

The Comets managed to close the gap to 12 with a minute remaining when Lee Verslues scored Fatima's final points on a layup. Verslues scored 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.

"I think that was Lee just taking it upon himself to say — he kind of struggled there early — but he even showed everybody here that he's one of the top guards in Mid-Missouri and I think he proved that in the second half," Fatima coach Ryan Robertson said. "I think you'll see that the rest of the season. He's had a great year so far and he's a tough kid."

The teams traded blows in the first quarter, with Nate Brandt draining a 3 from the top of the key for a 7-5 Comets lead and Blair Oaks later answering with a Kusgen steal and Jake Closser 3 to make it 8-7.

Closser tied the game at 13 toward the end of the first quarter when he scored a layup off a Blair Oaks steal.

Closser finished with 15 points.

Then Luke Northweather got rolling, starting off a 15-point second quarter with a 3 from the top of the key.

The 6-foot-9 junior made 4-of-6 from deep, 7-of-8 from inside the arc and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line for 30 points.

"If he's going to shoot like that out there, that makes him really, really hard to guard," Robertson said. "Because then you've got to go out and deny him out there at 30 feet. And then he cuts and then he seals you in the paint. He's always working. He's a terrific player and I just take my hat off to him."

Blair Oaks led 25-15 when Dylan Hair handed it off to Northweather at the top of the key for a 3. Fatima cut it back to a five-point margin on a Cooper Kleffner 3 and Leo Peters layup off a Verslues steal.

"Like usual, very competitive," Fick said.

Blair Oaks led 32-22 at halftime thanks to a Northweather three-point play in the final minute of the second quarter.

Fatima scored eight consecutive points in the third quarter on 3s from Brandt and Kleffner plus a layup by Brandt, closing the gap to 34-30 with 6:31 on the clock.

Closser then made a 3, Carson Prenger scored a layup off a steal and Blair Oaks led by at least five the rest of the way.

"They're tough kids, they're gonna bounce back from this, we're gonna keep working," Robertson said.

Fatima (5-2) will play Jan. 4-9 in the Owensville Tournament.

Up next for Blair Oaks (4-1) is the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic at Fleming Fieldhouse. The Falcons will face Helias on Monday, Jefferson City on Tuesday and Father Tolton next Wednesday.

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