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South Iron repeats as Class 1 boys basketball champion behind Drenin Dinkins’ strong effort

St. Elizabeth takes third place with OT win.
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By Cody Thorn I Photo by Cheap Seats Photography

SPRINGFIELD — In his final high school game, South Iron’s Drenin Dinkins put on a performance for the ages. 

The senior guard helped the No. 1-ranked Panthers roll to a 71-45 victory over Stanberry in the Class 1 championship game on Saturday night at JQH Arena.

The win means the Panthers are the first Class 1 team to repeat as champions since Scott County Central won four straight from 2009 to 2012 during the Otto Porter Jr. era.

“It feels great,” South Iron senior guard DJ Prater said. “I mean, I've been playing basketball my whole life and this has been the moment you want to be in. So it's just a great overall feeling.”

The Panthers never trailed in the win and after being tied 5-5 early against the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs, a 3-pointer by Dinkins gave South Iron the lead for the final time with 4:38 left in the first.

Dinkins had 13 points in the first quarter, staking the team to an 18-12 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter the Southwest Baptist signee got even hotter, scoring 16 points and gave the Panthers a 41-20 lead at the break.

The 29-point first-half effort is tied for third all-time at the MSHSAA championships for a half. He tied Casey Teson of St. Charles, who had 29 in a 2015 game. The only efforts better were Sumner’s Dave Brent’s 31 points in 1969 and Risco’s Ted Landers scoring 32 in 1977.

Dinkins’ 29 points is the second most in the first half, behind Brent.

“I just got in the groove and my teammates did a good job of finding me,” Dinkins said.

Stanberry guard Tyler Schwebach said in the postgame press conference that Dinkins was one of the top two players he’s ever guarded in a game – the other is Nebraska-Omaha signee Tony Osborn from Mound City.

“He was shifty and he could shoot from anywhere and he is really good at getting to the lane, stopping and going through contact,” Schwebach said. “He is a really good ball player and he dropped 29 in the first half. So I really didn’t do enough about that.”

In last year’s championship game, Dinkins scored only nine points in South Iron’s win against Mound City.

Stanberry (25-4) started to put more effort defensively on Dinkins, essentially using a triangle-and-1 to try to limit him. It worked, giving up only five points in the second half.

Dinkins hit five 3-pointers, was 7-for-9 from the free-throw line, added 14 rebounds, two assists and three steals, a team-high.

In the first half, Dinkins was 10-of-15 from the field, while the rest of the team was 5 for 11 for 57 percent from the field. In addition, South Iron hit 7-of-10 3-pointers.

“Just a great start for us,” South Iron coach Dusty Dinkins said. “We want to really try to come out and establish ourselves defensively rebounding, but also try to find a flow on offense and it's really nice when you have guys making shots early and making plays early. Offensively, just kind of settled nerves so to speak, especially in a game of this magnitude. Our taller guys did a really good job. The seniors have been in a lot of big games and really led us well, really proud of them and our entire team.”

Stanberry got a double-double from Schwebach, 17 points and 12 rebounds. His twin, Tyler, had nine points. The two were key factors in the Bulldogs’ overtime win against Wellsville-Middletown in the semifinal the night before.

Third-place game: St. Elizabeth 50, Wellsville-Middletown 45, OT

The Hornets needed a little extra time, but ended the season on a win for the third time over the past four years on Saturday afternoon at JQH Arena.

St. Elizabeth picked up the school’s sixth state trophy and the fourth third-place finish. Last year and in 2019, the Hornets finished third.

Sandwiched between those was a runner-up finish in 2020.

The Hornets (19-11) held a two-point lead late in the fourth quarter before Wellsville-Middletown’s Carson Huff hit a jumper with 4 seconds left to tie the game – the eighth of the game.

St. Elizabeth missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end regulation.

The game was tied at 41 early in overtime but the Hornets took the lead for good on a pair of free throws from Brock Lucas with 2:28 left, making it 43-41. He added the next basket as well on a jumper, set up by a steal from Caleb Oligschlaeger. Lucas accounted for seven of the Hornets’ 11 points in overtime.

Lucas, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, had a game-high 23 points and added 11 rebounds. He led the team in assists with four and had three steals, second on the team behind Oligeschlaeger, who had five.

Senior Keaton Mayes had a team-high 16 points for the Tigers, which lost both games at state in overtime to finish the year 20-8.