CRANE — It turned out Colton Plowman had to work harder for his final four points to 1,000 than his preceding 996.
Needing 16 points to join Billings’ 1,000-point club, Plowman got 16 points the hard way in the Wildcats’ 73-41 first-round win against Pierce City at the Crane Tournament on Monday
Plowman actually appeared to be on his way to an easy night toward 1,000 and then some by scoring nine points in the first quarter and 12 in the first half.
But he missed his first nine shots of the second half. Pierce City switched from a zone defense in the first half to man-to-man in the second half and had Kyle Kenkoski on Plowman.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Plowman found some freedom from Kenkoski. He hit two free throws and soared to the bucket for a fast-break layup to make it to 1,000.
The senior guard admittedly was feeling stressed and was very much relieved afterward.
“I am so glad to get this out of the way,” Plowman said. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Those last two quarters, I couldn’t make a shot because I was so nervous. It was a lot to process.
“I was trying so hard,” he added. “It was in my head.”
“He was pressing,” coach Kendall Tilley said. “We tried to have him do it the other night at home, but realized it wasn’t going to happen. I’m glad he finally got it out of the way.”
Re-tracing Plowman’s path to 1,000, he scored 190 points as a freshman, 329 during a breakout sophomore campaign, 368 as a junior and has 113 thus far as a senior.
“It’s a credit to his hard work and being in the gym all the time,” Tilley said. “It’s a good accomplishment, not an easy feat. Very few people do it.”
Prior to Plowman, the last Billings player to reach 1,000 was Tyler Essick two years ago.
“I saw early on (Plowman and fellow seniors Kyler Tennis and Hayden Fender) were going to be able to come up (to the varsity) and play early,” Tilley said. “They’re gym rats. They love to be in the gym. So, I knew it was just a matter of time before one of them got something like this.”
“I started thinking about this toward the middle of my junior season,” Plowman said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can scratch it out.’
“My grandpa (Billings assistant Tyler Laney) told me after my sophomore year that (opponents) know me now, they’re going to have their best defender on me and I would have to deal with it,” PLowman added. “You’ve got to want their best defender on you and make them guard you.”
Billing super sub Tryton Davis hasn’t earned the title of Billings’ best defender, what with Fender having 173 career blocks. But Davis’ defense has been exceptional since his playing time increased due to an injury to Tennis.
Davis was his usual ball-hawking self against Pierce City.
“When I come off the bench, I try to find the best people I can to play defense on,” Davis said. “It always makes me excited to help the team.”
“With Kyler down, Tryton has had to play more minutes than normal. Good for him,” Tilley said. “He has quick hands, he’s always had that since junior high. He anticipates well. He always play so hard. He’s stepped up since Kyler went down.”
“He has some of the fastest hands I’ve seen,” Plowman said. “All the time during practices, he strips the ball from us. There’s no getting past him because of his hands.”
Davis stole the spotlight from Plowman for a bit Monday, as he swished a jumper a couple steps inside the half-court line at the end of the third quarter.
“I put it up there and hoped for the best,” Davis said. “It was a shock more than anything for me, that it went in. I was trying to process that I actually made it.”
Billings (10-4), the No. 2 seed, advances to meet Marionville in semifinal action Thursday. Marionville beat Monett 68-49 Monday.
Billings 73, Pierce City 41
PIERCE CItY (41) — Medlin 2 0-0 6, O’Hara 1 2-3 4, Clayton 2 0-0 4, Jespersen 1 0-0 2, Hyde 3 1-2 7, Vannote 2 0-0 4, Kenkoski 4 6-7 14. Totals 15 9-12 41.
BILLINGS (73) — Henry 2 4-6 8, Newkirk 5 3-4 14, Plowman 5 4-4 16, Davis 4 0-0 9, Moody 4 0-0 8, Fender 7 2-2 16, Vesci 1 0-1 2. Totals 28 13-17 73.
Pierce City 10 9 12 10 - 41
Billings 22 18 19 14 - 73
3-point goals - Plowman 2, Medlin 2, Davis, Newkirk.