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Hornets falter late in Boonville loss

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton senior forward Nick Christenson runs into Boonville senior Michael Luscombe in the second quarter of the Hornets’ 63-52 NCMC loss to the Pirates on Friday night at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium. Christenson was fouled on the play.

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton senior forward Nick Christenson runs into Boonville senior Michael Luscombe in the second quarter of the Hornets’ 63-52 NCMC loss to the Pirates on Friday night at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium. Christenson was fouled on the play.

Perhaps it was after a jump shot from Boonville junior guard Jason Luster rattled off every part of the rim and fell through the hoop that the momentum swung and stayed with the Pirates in Friday night’s game against the Fulton Hornets.

Luster’s conversion were points five and six in an 8-0 run Boonville run to start the fourth quarter. It caused Fulton head coach Marques Baldwin to call a timeout with 5 minutes, 53 seconds to play, giving the visiting Pirates a 51-45 lead.

Fulton never led again, but don’t tell Baldwin that it was at that point that the Hornets lost the game.

“They (Boonville) took the game a long time before that,” Baldwin said. “We fought back a couple of times, but we didn’t come out well and we were never in control after that.”

Fulton was outscored 18-7 in the final 8 minutes in Friday night’s 63-52 North Central Missouri Conference loss to Boonville at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium.

The Hornets (8-7, 3-3 NCMC) — who have dropped five of their last seven — tied the game at 45-45 on a putback by from senior forward Nick Christensen with four seconds left in the third quarter. However, Fulton didn’t score for the first 4:04 of the fourth quarter.

“I don’t know how we were tied at the end of the third quarter,” Baldwin said. “We played well in spurts, we got out and pushed the ball and got easy buckets, we just didn’t do it consistently.”

Boonville (6-8, 3-3) did, in fact, throw a hiccup into the usual go-go tempo of the Fulton offense. Employing a half-court trap at times before settling into a more methodical 2-3 zone defense, the Pirates weren’t showing anything that the Hornets hadn’t seen or weren’t prepared to encounter.

That still didn’t stop Fulton from bouts of self-doubt and hesitancy, leading to turnovers and too many picked-up dribbles.

“We had worked on playing against a zone all week but we just froze up,” sophomore guard Deon Galbreath said.

Galbreath, coming off back-to-back double-figure scoring efforts against California and Helias, ran into quite a bit of that Friday night — as did his teammates.

Even though his teammate, senior guard Anthony Porter, led all scorers with a game-high 26 points, no other Hornets player made it into double figures against Boonville, which lost at home to Fulton 53-47 on Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, Luster and senior center Michael Luscombe led the Pirates with 16 points apiece Friday night. Luscombe was somewhat of a bear on the offensive glass, keeping more than a few Boonville possessions alive.

It took a chewing out of the Hornets at halftime by the coaching staff to curb that effort. The Fulton contingency was peeved Luscombe even got himself in position to make those plays.

“We just weren’t boxing out and they wanted it more than us, and it showed,” Galbreath said. “They played like men and we played like boys, and it showed.”

“It helped that he (Luscombe) fouled out, but we have to buy into blocking out and being a tough team all the time,” Baldwin added.

Luscombe fouled out with 5:51 to play and Boonville leading 55-50. He was one of four players —two from each team — to foul out. All totaled, Fulton and Boonville accounted for 49 free throws, 34 fouls, 11 lead changes, eight ties and, specifically for the Hornets, one lost opportunity.

“The hardest part was just having a lead and not being able to keep it for longer than a minute or two,” Galbreath said.

The game was the first of three in three days for the Hornets, culminating in a slugfest tonight at 8 with the undefeated, No. 4-ranked Mexico Bulldogs in the MFA Oil/Break Time Shootout at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Fulton travelled to Marshall for an NCMC contest late Saturday afternoon. Results were not available at press time.

The junior varsity Hornets improved to 9-1 with a 35-23 win over Boonville on Friday night. Fulton, which plays Boonville again in the Mexico Tournament on Wednesday, received a team-high 11 points from junior guard Burke Echelmeier.

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