By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. —
Strafford’s boys, buoyed by a 13-1 run to close out the first quarter, beat Seneca 70-50 on Wednesday night in a MSHSAA Class 3 sectional game.
The spree gave Strafford a 19-7 lead and, although Seneca had a couple of serious rallies, the 2011 state runner-up moved into the quarterfinals.
Strafford, 24-4, will face Fatima of Westphalia, 27-1, at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the O’Reilly Family Event Center at Drury University in Springfield. Fatima ousted Hartville 62-46.
Seneca, tri-champion with Carl Junction and Mount Vernon in the Big 8 Conference, finished 21-8.
“We struggled early. We had trouble hitting shots,” Seneca coach Will King said. “Their defensive pressure got to us. We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball.”
Seneca committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, and Strafford exhibited its balance as each of its starters had at least one basket.
“We played well,” Strafford coach Mike Wilson said. “We did it, I thought, on both ends of the floor. We’ve been playing well on defense all season.
“I believe overall we’ve been playing at a high level for the last month. Strafford has lost only to Class 5 and Class 4 teams.”
Strafford led 34-19 at the half in the W.E. Dowell Fieldhouse.
Seneca then twice pared the deficit to 11 — the second time at 37-26 — before a Strafford flurry increased its lead to 50-30 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Blake Alexander, a 6-foot-2 senior, and 5-11 sophomore Grant Boswell each scored 16 points for Strafford. Alexander tallied seven in the opening quarter and Boswell, hitting three 3s, garnered 13 in the second period.
Jacob Wade, a 6-3 junior, added 10 points for Strafford, which usually starts four underclassmen.
Kyler Ng, a 6-0 senior who delivered several acrobatic moves for points in the fourth quarter, paced Seneca in scoring with 18. Chance Smith, a 6-2 junior, added 15 points.
King was emotional after the game.
“This is a super team ... a special team ... a coach’s dream ... a great group of kids,” said King, a 1995 Seneca High School graduate. “We have great senior leadership.”