Tolton boys basketball wins district championship

Saturday, March 1, 2014 | 6:37 p.m. CST; updated 6:54 p.m. CST, Saturday, March 1, 2014
In this Jan. 26 file photo, Iberia's Darrien Dickey and Riley Hailey attempt to intercept as Michael Porter Jr. looks to pass the ball during the MFA Oil Break Time Shootout at Mizzou Arena. On Saturday's district championship game against Harrisburg, Porter led the Trailblazers in scoring with 28 points.

HARRISBURG — Michael Porter Jr. said things would be different this time.

The last time Fr. Tolton Catholic Regional High School played Harrisburg High School, the Trailblazers played man-to-man defense. This time Tolton played a zone.

The last time, Tolton was without junior Brennan Church due to an ankle injury. This time Church scored 17 points.

The last time, Harrisburg beat Tolton by two points.

But things were different on Saturday.

No. 2 Tolton (19-7) beat No. 1 Harrisburg (19-6) 73-51 in the Class 2 District 7 championship game. Porter led the Trailblazers in scoring with 28 points. This is the first athletic district championship for the Trailblazers, but Church was quick to point out that mock trial had already claimed the school's first district championship trophy.

"We'll take anything that comes our way," Church said. "We want to play the best just to show how good we are. We'll play anybody."

The first four minutes were the only thing that kept Harrisburg hanging around.

Tolton started out 0-for-8 from the floor in the first-quarter and allowed Harrisburg to build a 7-0 lead. But by the middle of the second-quarter, Tolton was on top.

Porter said that was different, too.

"Early in the season if we got down, we would keep going down," Porter said. "But lately when we get down, we fight back."

Tolton dominated the entire second half. The Trailblazers extended their lead and did not allow Harrisburg to counter with any runs. Tolton coach Tyler Clark said defense won Tolton the game, which is something he hasn't always seen from his team.

"Our offense has been pretty special at times, but our defense has struggled," Clark said. "But defense won us that game. And that's exciting for me."

Clark said the game was a microcosm of Tolton's season.

"We had some ups and downs, we learned a lot about ourselves and we grew up as a team," Clark said.

Tolton will play Linn High School (16-11) in its sectional game at 7:45 March 5. The game will be played at Jefferson City High School.

Tolton beat Linn earlier this year in the first round of the Southern Boone tournament, which the Trailblazers went on to win.

Clark hopes things won't be different.

"They're playing a lot better," Clark said about Linn. "We're excited about the challenge."

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