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COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Cardinal Ritter Coach Marvin Neals made a rather [weak] strong assertion after his team’s 51-48 win over Mountain Grove in the Class 3 semifinals Friday night.It’s not atypical [awk. word choice] for coaches to boast about their player’s prowess, but Neals went a step beyond that.“I’m not going to hold back, I really believe Marquis and DeAndre are two of the best guards in the state, if not the best,” Neals said. “There’s no question in my mind. Three years ago I said that (about state championship guards Ken Burke and Antoine Vinson). I’m saying it again.”It would be [passive] hard to argue with Neals assertion [2X] simply because he’s seen a lot of basketball [,] and senior guard Marquis Jones and junior guard DeAndre Gilmore also did a lot to back up Neals’ claims at the state tournament. [2 thoughts in this sentence distinct enough to require 2 sentences]For their efforts, Jones and Gilmore are the North County Journals Athletes of the Week.First, Jones and Gilmore – nicknamed thunder and lightning [names take caps?] -- teamed up to sink Cameron (Mo.) in the semifinal round as they brought Ritter back from a 17-point deficit to [in?] the team’s 51-48 win at Mizzou Arena Friday.Jones scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half and Gilmore scored 11 of his 15 during the comeback in the final 16 minutes.But it was Gilmore’s final three points that were most meaningful as he converted a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to sink Cameron. [If they were tied at this point mention it - it heightens the meaning of the deep 3]“I don’t know what to say,” Gilmore said. “We were looking for Marquis to shoot the ball. They double teamed him and left me wide open. I got the ball, took the shot and when it went off my hand I felt it going in. It felt so good. That’s the first time I have ever shot a winning shot in my life at the buzzer."Not to be outdone, the duo came up big again as Jones and Gilmore combined for 45 of Ritter’s 67 points in the Lions’ Class 3 title win Saturday over Charleston.Ritter (28-3) led for the entire game and the dynamic duo was a big part of that as Gilmore poured in 23 points while Jones pitched in 22 points.Once again, Gilmore hit a big buzzer beater to virtually [he either did or didn't] bring down an opponent.Wit Ritter up 31-26 and three seconds to play in the first half, Gilmore converted room [from?] nearly the same distance as he had Friday to send Ritter into the locker room with the 34-26 edge and Charleston in with its back virtually [2X, even weaker here] broken.“We should never have given them a chance to get that three off,” Charleston Coach Danny Farmer said. “I had a freshman (Antonio Riggers) handling the ball and he’s going to make freshman mistakes (turning the ball over with three seconds left).“But we also wouldn’t be here if not for that freshman, so we live and die with him,” Farmer added. “It was a big blow, a big blow for us to take.”For good measure, Jones and Gilmore put the Lions up on their backs and kept the Bluejays at bay [semi-mixed metaphors - on backs and at bay] during the final quarter.First, Jones made four big free throws, a three-pointer and a fastbreak lay-in during the third quarter as the Lions extended its [their?] lead to 16 over Charleston.Then, Gilmore deftly handled the ball and sank the bulk [how many did he sink? these are statistics, not estimates] of eight big free throws over the final quarter to preserve the lead after Jones fouled out with three minutes, 51 seconds left to play.“It’s been huge,” said Neals of the duo’s play Saturday. “They’ve been our offensive catalyst all year. We’ve had to play a few games this year when Marquis has gotten into foul trouble and even one or two when DeAndre has been in foul trouble. One has stepped in and just picked up the other.”While they’ve spent time picking each other up, Jones and Gilmore have combined to pick Ritter up and elevate it to the top status in Class 3.Something that’s not lost on Jones.“It’s just fate that we should be (celebrating) this moment,” Jones said. “DeAndre made that big shot last night and we knew we had to come out more aggressive tonight to not get behind. I felt we had to come out and go to work. We did that and won.”
jgmacg,I do have a question for you.I've been having a good number of go 'rounds with my editor over pronoun usage. With the noun team -- is it an its (singular possessive) or a their (group possessive). i.e. The teams won its/their game?roxraidersfan
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