Nixa tournament: Nixa crushes Billings, 87-57-

NIXA, Mo. -- The highly anticipated semifinal game in the Nixa Invitational Friday night featuring the David and Goliath matchup of Nixa and Billings went to Goliath, as the Eagles crushed the Billings Wildcats 87-57 to advance to the championship of their own tournament. 

Jordan Epps scored 26 points to lead four Eagles in double figures as Nixa shook off an early Billings threat to cruise to the win.  The capacity crowd was ready for a big game, and the first quarter was no disappointment as Kaleb Harter and Chad Yeokum made some big three pointers to keep Billings within 19-16 at the end of the first quarter.  Nixa exploded in the second quarter behind Epps, Austin Ruder, and Jalen Norman as the Eagles outscored Billings 20-13 to take a 39-29 halftime lead. 

The Eagles really hit their stride in the third quarter, as a smaller and somewhat slower Billings team began to wilt under Nixa's constant defensive pressure.  Jalen Norman threw down a big tomahawk dunk in the third quarter as Nixa outscored Billings 25-14 to lead Billings 64-43 after three quarters. 

Jalen Norman no doubt impressed everyone in attendance with his athleticism, and the audience included Drury University coach Steve Hesser (who came to watch DU signee Kameron Bundy) and an assistant coach from  the University of Northern Iowa Panthers, who are in town to face the Missouri State Bears in a showdown Saturday at JQH Arena. 

The fourth quarter was no better for Billings, as Nixa scored 23 more points to secure the easy 87-57 victory. 

Jordan Epps scored 26 to lead the Eagles, and Austin Ruder added 18, Kameron Bundy 12, and Jalen Norman 14.

For Billings, Kaleb Harter scored 21 points and Brady Chastain added 17.  Billings will play in the third place game Saturday at 5 p.m., while Nixa advanced to the 6:30 p.m. championship game.  

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