COLUMBIA — Looking at ease behind the 3-point arc, Mason Murray found his spot.
After coming off the bench in the third quarter of Hickman's game Saturday against Poplar Bluff, Murray drained four 3-pointers from the same spot on the floor. The sophomore's shooting was part of a 16-6 Kewpies run in the third quarter. Hickman dominated the second half against the Mules, winning 62-39 in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.
"We’ve got guys that can shoot," Hickman head coach David Johnson said. "In the first half, we weren’t patient enough, and we weren’t looking for the proper guy. In the second half, Murray got open and knocked down some big shots, and that helped open up the inside for us."
Murray wound up with 14 points and was one of three Kewpies (1-1) who had double-digit point totals.
"Coach told me to shoot, so I just kept shooting," Murray said.
Murray wasn't the only young player that performed well. Freshman Jimmy Whitt, a starting guard, had 14 points of his own, including three 3-pointers.
"It’s great coming out here because I have an older brother that played," Whitt said. "It has always been my dream to come out and play for Hickman. It’s always a fun time, and I really get some experience now because of the competition."
The Kewpies outmatched Poplar Bluff through speed and aggressive defense, including a full-court press. Hickman guard Chris Clark tossed up two alley-oops to Da'Quan Dixon that wowed the crowd. The second one came late in the third quarter and took away Poplar Bluff's moment. Dixon finished with 14 points.
"Dixon is an all around player," Johnson said. "His strength is getting to the basket and slashing. He’s athletic, and he jumps out of the gym. We try to play to his strengths. When we play to his strengths, he’s very tough to handle."
Hickman looks to keep its momentum when it travels Tuesday to Blue Springs High School to play Lincoln Prep in the McDonald's tournament. After an overtime loss and Saturday's blowout win, Johnson said he thinks his team is moving in the right direction.
"We've shown some good signs," Johnson said. "But we still have a lot of work to do."