William Chrisman boys basketball coach Jake Kates proved to be the perfect host to Springfield Central High School on the opening night of the Phog Allen Invitational, despite leading his Bears to a mercy-rule 68-30 victory over the Bulldogs.

His starters helped the Bears get off to a convincing 25-6 first-quarter lead Thursday night. After the first period, Bulldogs coach Armando Johnson told Kates to keep the pressure applied, saying his team needed to be tested.

They were tested, but not embarrassed.

“We kept the man defense on the first half, but I told their coach I didn’t want people in our gym to get the wrong impression of our team because we would never embarrass any team – especially a team that traveled from Springfield to play in our first Phog Allen Invitational," Kates said.

Kates pulled his starters midway through the second period as they scored just 23 of the Bears’ 68 points.

“We wanted to get off to a good start and play good, solid defense to start the game, and we did,” said starter Isaiah Jackson, whose seven-point first quarter outscored the entire Bulldog team (he finished with 11 first-half points).

“I didn’t even know what the score was, because I don’t pay attention to that. I just pay attention to what I can do to help my team win, and with Coach Kates it all starts with defense and that leads to good offense.”

The Bears took a 46-10 lead into halftime and the starters had a ringside seat on the bench as only reserves played the second half.

Kates even found two juniors in the gym, who were not listed on the roster or in the scorebook, took two administrative technicals and played them most of the fourth quarter.

“Coach is great,” said guard Zachariah Rowe, who came off the bench and led the Bears with 15 points. “Here’s what Coach says in a game like this, ‘Go out, play hard, play your game and hit some big baskets because there is going to be a time this season when we need your baskets.’

“That’s a great approach. That gets all the guys fired up. We want to do what we can to make this a special season, so we worked on things like that tonight in a real game.”

Kates was thrilled with the electricity of the first night of the tournament.

“When I came here last year, I told (activities director) Greg McGhee that I wanted to have a tournament – something special that would show teams in the area and teams outside the state – what Chrisman basketball was all about,” he said. “And I’m a Mizzou guy, but when (University of Kansas Hall of Fame coach) Phog Allen coached here, you have to name the tournament after him. That’s the perfect way to get some attention because everyone knows who Coach Allen is.

“And we want to thank our title sponsor Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co., for paying for a meal a day and for the hotels for our teams from out of town. This tournament didn’t cost them a penny for their hotel and that’s all because of Blue Ridge Bank and Trust and our other great sponsors.

“This is our first year and we’re just going to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Donte Reese led Central with eight points.

Chrisman will meet Kansas City Southeast, which beat Norman (Okla.), in today's 7:05 p.m. semifinal.