The Grove Ridgerunners battled the defending NEO Tournament champions Riverview Christian (MO) Friday evening at the NEO Field House with the Eagles edging out a 54-50 win.
Grove (3-8) will now face Miami (7-5) today (Saturday) in their final game of the boys blue round robin bracket at the Field House. Riverview (16-4) and Springfield Central (18-2) will play later in the day for the bracket championship.
A determined Grove squad began the fourth quarter down by two, 36-34 Friday night. A three-point basket from Eagle senior Nathan Simniok opened the final eight minutes and gave the private school a five point advantage as the teams exchanged baskets throughout the middle minutes of the frame.
With 1:36 left in the contest the Ridgerunners began a rally that saw them come to within one point of their opponent. Senior Tyler Spychalski landed a three-point basket and on the ensuing Grove possession senior Reid Harding scored three points the old fashioned way with a bucket and a free throw.
Riverview responded with another field goal from Simniok and two shots from the charity stripe to re-assert their five point edge with just under a minute left to play.
With 39 seconds left in the game Spychalski made good again from beyond the three-point arc to place Grove two points out from knotting the score.
On the next Eagle possession Simniok hit one of two at the foul line and the Ridgerunners had one more chance.
That final possession would prove to be an exciting one. Three times Grove had a potential three point shot bounce off the rim and all three times the Ridgerunners managed to gain the rebound. After rebounding another close shot GHS was called for a foul and possession returned to the Eagles with six seconds on the scoreboard. An Eagle one of two show at the foul line made for the final four point spread.
Spychalski finished the game with 15 points. Trent Winters, Chris Graham, and Jack Johnson rounded out the Ridgerunner high scorers with seven apiece.
Simniok led all scorers on the evening with 28 points.