SEDALIA — After having last season end with a loss in the Class 3 quarterfinals, the Blair Oaks Falcons have been preparing themselves to get back to that game to have another crack at earning a Final Four bid.
They'll get that chance Saturday night after gliding past Butler on Wednesday night for a 72-34 victory in sectionals.
"We're right where we want to be," Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said.
Top-ranked Blair Oaks (27-2), winner of 19 straight games, will face Fair Grove (22-7) at 7:45 p.m. at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar.
The Falcons fell to eventual state runner-up Springfield Catholic by a score of 54-41 last year in the quarterfinals.
Blair Oaks has taken a similar path as last season, squeezing past Father Tolton in the District 9 championship game and defeating its sectional opponent by more than 35.
Blair Oaks never trailed in Wednesday's sectional and the score was only tied once when Kenneth Gabriel made a jump shot to knot it up at 2.
Quinn Kusgen got comfortable from beyond the arc early and often, putting in his first of seven 3s from the right corner for a 10-4 lead at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter.
Kusgen scored a game-high 26 points.
"Anytime the ball went to the paint they were sending three or four guys to the lane to try to crowd that," Fick said. "I knew we would have the opportunity to shoot a lot of jump shots off the kick outs and we did."
Butler did close back in after Kale Jacobs made a jumper and Andrew Beckley added a long-range shot at the 2:47 mark to pull back within 10-9.
Blair Oaks decided to get out of its full-court zone and back into half-court man-to-man.
"Once we went to straight man, I thought we guarded well in the half court," Fick said. "Our energy on the defensive end really changed."
The lead was back up to five at 14-9 on an Eric Northweather one-handed slam and free throw for a three-point play. Northweather scored the final points of the opening quarter with two free throws for an 18-11 lead.
Northweather made 9-of-10 at the line and finished with 24 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Luke Northweather stretched the advantage to 26-14 midway through the second quarter with a three-point play. He tallied 16 points, six rebounds and five blocks.
Blair Oaks led 40-21 at halftime and a dominant third quarter that featured three-point plays by each of the Northweather brothers plus three 3s by Kusgen put the Falcons ahead 66-26.
Gabriel led Butler (15-14) with 10 points and five rebounds.