By KYLE MAYHUGH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
EWING, Mo. -- The Canton boys basketball team held off a fourth-quarter rally from Highland to win the championship 81-74 Saturday at the Highland Tournament.
The Tigers built an 18-point lead entering the fourth quarter, which the Cougars were able to cut in half but no more.
Sophomore Gabe McKenzie scored a team-high 22 points as Canton had four players score in double figures to help outpace Highland.
"We played really well," McKenzie said. "We were finishing. Our starters came through big and we played some good D."
For Highland, senior Brandon Davie scored 26 points to help the Cougars stay in the game, starting with a four-point play early in the first quarter and he scored 11 in the fourth.
Derick Smith had 24 for the Cougars, and Jack Neisen added 10.
"I think in the first half, we got up and down the floor really well and moved the ball," Canton coach Andy Anderson said. "We had people cutting and had good action on offense, which got us good looks. In the second half, they made a great run. They hurt our zone a little bit with three-point shooting and made a great run."
Davie's four-point play gave the hosts a 6-5 lead early in the first quarter, but Canton would take over and lead the rest of the way. Tyler Niemann's 3-pointer in the final two minutes of the half put Canton up 40-24, and they entered halftime with a 16-point lead.
The Canton lead maxed out at 21 points in the third quarter, and Highland began to find turnovers to close the gap in the fourth quarter.
Davie's basket with four minutes to go made it 71-62, but Canton's free-throw shooting down the stretch sealed the win.