BREESE — Apparently, the Mascoutah High basketball team forgot to read the script.
The Indians, seeded last in the 10-team Mater Dei Christmas Tournament, recorded their third successive upset on Thursday knocking off Highland 53-48 in the 52nd annual tradition-rich affair at Mater Dei High.
Mascoutah (5-7) improves to 3-0 in pool play and can reach the championship game with a win over top-seeded Memphis Briarcrest (12-3) in a 1:30 p.m. contest Friday.
At the very least, the Indians, who entered the tournament on a six-game losing streak, will play for third place.
"It's kind of hard to believe, but I always thought we had the talent to do something like this," explained senior center Alex King.
Mascoutah became the surprise of the tournament by stunning fourth-seeded Okawville and eighth-seeded Carlyle on the first day of play Wednesday.
Coach Cody Reynolds' squad followed that up by shocking Highland 24 hours later.
"We came in as a 10th seed and that was probably about right for us," Reynolds said. "But in a pool-play tournament, seeds don't really mean that much. We knew we were a better team than that.
"We just had to come out and show it."
The Indians did just that. They used a 19-2 run at the outset of the second half to erase a 12-point halftime deficit. Then they exploded on a 17-3 run at the beginning of the fourth period.
Fifth-seeded Highland (9-5) had blasted Mascoutah 39-21 just 19 days early in the Indians' home opener.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 14-point lead in Thursday's rematch and appeared well on their way to another blowout.
But Mascoutah did a complete about-face in the second half.
"My halftime speech wasn't too pleasant," Reynolds said.
Explained sophomore Tim Parks, "He was mad -- but I guess we deserved it."
Parks led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. King added 10 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Marshall Moore chipped in with nine points and seven boards.
Highland senior Mitch Carriger led all scorers with 22 points.
Mascoutah, trailing 22-10 at the break, scored the first 12 points of the second half to draw even in the battle of Mississippi Valley Conference rivals. Parks drilled a 3-pointer to complete the blitz, which took just 2:33. Minutes later, junior Jaylen Nelson converted a layup off a steal by Parks that gave the Indians a 29-24 lead.
Highland rallied to tie behind a 3-pointer from Carriger and a short jumper by Logan Meier.
But Mascoutah began the fourth quarter with another lightning-quick streak to regain control. Moore got the ball rolling with a basket from close range. King scored on a fast-break layup to continue the run. Parks then finished things off with a baseline jumper that pumped the advantage to 46-32 with 2:14 remaining.
Highland could get no closer than to within five points the rest of the way.
"We really didn't compete in the second half at all," Highland coach Matt Elledge said. "We just got away from what we were doing."
The Indians struggled mightily in the first half. They committed 11 turnovers, missed 11 shots and managed just five field goals.
But they came out like a team on fire in the second half hitting six successive shots at one point.
"At half, we figured we could either make a run or get killed," King said. "We decided that we had to play better."
Parks said the 18-point loss to Highland on Dec. 7 played a factor in Thursday's rematch.
"They pretty much embarrassed us in front of our big crowd," he said. "We knew we had to get them back."
Sacred Heart-Griffin 49, Mater Dei 38
The second-seeded Cyclones (8-2) moved to 3-0 in pool play with a win over the seventh-seeded Knights in the late game on Thursday.
Sacred Heart will face third-seeded Central on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will move into Saturday's championship game at 8 p.m.
Central is 2-1 in Pool B play.
Nate Lowisled Sacred Heart with15 points.
Zack Deiters and Bryton Timmermannpaced the Knights (6-7) with eight points each.
Okawville 53, Carlyle 35
The fourth-seeded Rockets (11-1) turned in a near-perfect performance to bounce back from their first loss of the season on Wednesday.
They jumped out to an early lead and held eighth-seeded Carlyle (6-5) to just four points in the third quarter on the way to a one-sided triumph.
"This was one of our best games this year," Okawville coach Jon Kraus said. "I thought our effort on the defensive end was really good."
Senior Jeremy Weeke led the way with 24 points and seven rebounds, both game highs. Junior Jacob Brammeier added 10 points.
Okawville, a Class 1A school with 185 students, won its first 10 games before dropping a 57-54 decision to Mascoutah on Wednesday.
The Rockets, 2-1 in the tournament, hardly missed a beat in their first game after the setback.
"Good teams know to responded after a loss," Kraus said. "I was proud of them."
Junior John Becker led the Indians with 14 points and five rebounds.
Briarcrest-Memphis 51, Carlyle 41
Senior Austin Nichols scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the top-seeded Saints (12-3) to victory.
Nichols, a 6-foot-9 inch standout headed to the University of Memphis, connected on six of 10 shots from the floor. He is ranked among the Top 15 high school players in the country by almost every scouting service. Nichols turned down offers from Duke, Virginia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Auburn.
Nichols scored 42 points in a 71-58 first-round win over Highland on Wednesday and has 55 points in two games. The record for most points in a five-game tournament is 151 set by Abel Schrader of Okawville in 1996.
Chris Hodges added 11 points for Briarcrest.
Tyson Boehne and Cody Huels had 12 points each for the eight-seeded Indians (6-4).
Central 59, Chicago-Julian 48
Senior Luke Jackson scored a game-high 21 points to lead the third-seeded Cougars (9-4) to a win in Pool B play.
Jackson sank five 3-pointers in helping Central to a 2-1 mark in the tournament.
The Cougars hit nine 3-pointers in the first half on the way 32-13 lead. Senior Jacob Timmermann added 10 points. Austin Rickhoff had seven points and six rebounds.
Central, the defending state and tournament champion, rolled out to a 15-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
The Cougars were 12-for-22 from 3-point range.
Antonio Reed led Julian (2-5) with 19 points.
Mater Dei 46, Nashville 43
Senior Adam Etter led the way with 15 points in the Knights Pool B win.
Seventh-seeded Mater Dei (6-6) rebounded from a 47-35 loss to Central on Wednesday.
Zack Deiters added 11 points to the winning attack.
Royce Newman led Nashville (8-4) with 10 points.