Focus on big prep contest

Today’s state semifinal game is a hot topic for two Missouri guards.
Friday, March 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:11 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

KANSAS CITY — Sophomore Spencer Laurie and junior Jimmy McKinney will be on the same side when the Tigers take on Oklahoma in the second round of the Big 12 Conference tournament today, but the Missouri guards have divided allegiances.

McKinney’s former team, Vashon, will play Laurie’s former team, Kickapoo, at 6:05 tonight in the Missouri State High School championship semifinals at Mizzou Arena.

Vashon (28-0) is the No. 1 team in the country according to national rankings. McKinney reminded Laurie of that in the Missouri locker room after the Tigers’ 70-67 win against Nebraska on Thursday.

“Number one team in the nation,” McKinney said. “I think we’ll win by 40. No, maybe 50. It’s possible. We won by 55 my senior year.”

McKinney kept adding to his predicted margin of victory, raising his voice to make sure Laurie heard.

“Sixty or maybe 65,” McKinney said, laughing and pointing at Laurie. “Look at Spencer.”

Across the locker room, Laurie turned a little red but mostly shrugged off McKinney’s boasts.

“I’m not going to stoop to that,” Laurie said. “I’m not going to get in a battle to say who is going to win by the most. We’ll see what happens. If we win, that’s all I’ll need to say.”

Laurie’s younger brother, Shane Laurie, plays guard for Kickapoo.

“I didn’t give him a whole lot of advice,” Spencer Laurie said. “He knows how to handle himself. The main thing is you just have to relax and play. You can’t get too uptight because it’s the final four. But I think he’s going to do that and hopefully they’ll pull out a win.”

BIG BASKET: When a team’s margin of victory is just three points, as Missouri’s was on Thursday, every basket matters. But some are bigger than others.

When Missouri’s two centers, Kevin Young and Kalen Grimes, weighing more than 500 pounds between them, hooked up for a bucket at the end of the first half, big was the operative word.

Young missed a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left in the half. Grimes pulled down Young’s second miss and put it back for two Missouri points.

“I told him I was going to do that,” Young joked. “We saw the eye contact.”

Young and Grimes, who are close friends off the court, have not spent much time on the court at the same time for Missouri.

“I always find myself playing against him in practice,” Grimes said. “Finally I get to play with him, and look what happens.”

SILENCE IS GOLDEN: It was the easiest round of applause the Golden Girls, Missouri’s dance team, earned all year.

The Golden Girls were scheduled to entertain the crowd at Kemper Arena during halftime, but the arena’s sound system was uncooperative. The Golden Girls took their position on the court and waited… and waited. Because of a technical glitch, the music to which the team planned to perform never came over the speakers.

After standing poised for action for about two minutes, the Golden Girls walked off the floor to a rousing applause.

The squad returned to the floor three minutes later and performed a different routine, with an assist from the Missouri band.

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