The Stanberry Bulldogs and Winston Redbirds have quite the rivalry brewing, playing each other in big games going back into their elementary school days. Over the past two seasons, the stakes have grown larger and larger, with the biggest game yet between the two schools taking place on Saturday afternoon at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph.
In a rematch from last year’s Class 1 state quarterfinal played on the same floor, the Bulldogs got revenge on the Redbirds, winning 47-41 to advance to the Show-Me Showdown for the third time in four years, denying Winston back-to-back trips to Columbia. Winston beat Stanberry in the quarterfinals one year ago, as the Redbirds finished second in the state tournament at Mizzou Arena.
Saturday’s contest had ample hype coming in, with the Grand River Conference champion playing the HDC Conference champion. Both teams had identical records (28-0) coming into the contest, with the shared history among one another.
Perhaps the biggest key to Stanberry’s victory came with the start, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-8 lead after one quarter, and made Winston chase them the entire afternoon. Led by Jordan Leonard’s strong second quarter play, Winston cut Stanberry’s halftime lead to just 23-20, but the Bulldogs, in the second half, had an answer to every Winston surge, of which there were many.
Stanberry’s biggest advantage against Winston came from a tall and rangy front line, and one of those players, senior center Daniel Hailey, led the Bulldog with 16 points. Jordan Leonard led Winston, and all scorers, with 19 points. Craig Lewis hit a trio of 3 point shots in the fourth quarter to keep Winston within striking distance until the final seconds, and scored 11 points (all in the final quarter).
The win sends the #1 ranked Bulldogs (29-o) into a Class 1 semifinal showdown against the Glasgow Yellowjackets on Thursday night at 8:20 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia. Winston, ranked #2 in the state coming into Saturday’s showdown, faces an off-season facing the same disappointment felt by Stanberry just 12 months ago.
On the top half of the Class 1 boy’s bracket, Gideon topped School of the Ozarks 58-49, while Walnut Grove drilled Drexel 76-44. Gideon will pay Walnut Grove at 6:40 Thursday night in a semifinal in the Hearnes Center.