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GIRLS HOOPS: Joplin defends early lead with stingy defense in the second half

Lucas Davis



Joplin girls basketball built a lead with a strong offensive performance in the second quarter and spent the second half locking down on the defensive end to preserve a 36-28 win over Monett on Tuesday inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.

The Eagles took a slim margin into the second period before starting the quarter with a surge on offense, pushing the lead to eight by the intermission. After building a double-digit advantage early in the second half, Joplin’s defense limited Monett to one field goal and 15 free throws in the second half en route to the win.

“We played extremely hard,” Joplin coach Brad Cox said. “We talked to our girls about playing a complete game for four quarters. If we can do that, we are going to be successful. Credit to Monett, they are a really good team. They scored 79 and 76 points in their last two games, so holding them to 28 was huge for our defense. I am super proud of the girls.”

Joplin took a 4-3 advantage into the second quarter and expanded that into an 18-11 lead by the intermission thanks in part to a 9-2 run to open the second stanza.

“We were just able to make some shots in the second quarter,” Cox said. “We worked the ball a little bit better, but overall we just made our shots.”

Alissa Owens accounted for two of Joplin’s field goals, while Bailey Owens added a score in the paint and Riley Kelly sank a shot from the perimeter.

After a pair of baskets from Monett’s Aryanna Seelye midway through the period trimmed the Cubs’ deficit to 13-9, Joplin closed the first half with a 5-2 spurt backed by another field goal from Alissa Owens as well as an offensive rebound and putback bucket from Solei Parker.

“Alissa was huge for us,” Cox said. “She never came out in that game. She is somebody we rely on because she has a motor like no other. She is a very important piece to our puzzle. As a sophomore, I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Joplin pushed its lead to double digits for the first time on an inside score from Alissa Owens early in the second half. Bailey Owens added a basket after Monett’s Abby Inman scored before she assisted on a score from Alissa Owens on a pass from the baseline to the paint to make the score 25-13 with five minutes on the clock. 

Monett held Joplin scoreless over the next four minutes of game action, but the Eagles’ defense limited the Cubs to just four free throws in the span.

Joplin got a bucket from Aiyana Kroll at the one-minute mark to end the drought and ultimately take a 27-17 lead into the final eight minutes of play.

The Eagles’ defense continued to be a strength in the fourth quarter, with Joplin limiting Monett’s scoring down the stretch to 11 free throws, nine coming from Meredith Merriman.

“At halftime, we talked about putting the pedal to the metal,” Cox said about the defensive effort in the second half. “They did a great job of (preventing Monett from going on a run) by playing great defense. I told the girls defense is going to be one of our main pillars to success.”

Alissa Owens closed with a team-high 14 points, nine coming in the first half. Bailey Owens and Kelly each had seven points in the win.

Merriman finished with 15 points to lead Monett, while Seelye closed with five points.

Joplin is at Central on Thursday.


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