CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Carl Junction had its chances late, but Girard (Kan.) left town with a 50-48 victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night in an interstate girls basketball clash.
It was Carl Junction’s first loss after three wins.
After a slow start, the Bulldogs overcame an eight-point deficit to pull ahead briefly in the fourth quarter, but foul trouble, empty possessions and missed free throws cost the hosts down the stretch.
“I don’t think we came out very intense tonight,” Carl Junction coach Brad Shorter said. “I don’t think we came out with very good energy. We didn’t rebound and we gave them multiple chances. And we turned it over too much. I think we had 12 turnovers in the first half. But we just have to be better. We definitely have to rebound better.”
The Trojans from Southeast Kansas used an 11-2 run in the first quarter to take an 18-10 lead. By the break, Girard’s lead was 26-19.
Carl Junction stormed back in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs scored the first eight points of the second half.
But during the period, Carl Junction’s Kylie Scott picked up her fourth foul and teammate Destiny Buerge, the team’s primary ball-handler and go-to scorer, was whistled for her third foul.
A hoop from Hali Shorter gave the Bulldogs a 32-30 lead, but the Trojans finished the third quarter on a 9-1 run for a 39-33 advantage heading into the fourth period.
The Bulldogs picked up the defensive pressure and began to force the Trojans into some turnovers early in the fourth quarter.
Carl Junction put together a 10-0 run, with Buerge and Scott accounting for all 10 points, to give the hosts a 46-44 lead. Many of the points came by converting Girard turnovers into layups the other way.
But the Bulldogs misfired on three straight free throws before Buerge fouled out with 2:17 remaining.
A pair of free throws from Girard’s Bailey Troike tied the game before teammate Danica Lopez connected on a go-ahead 3-pointer with just two minutes to play.
Carl Junction’s Klohe Burk scored on a putback and drew a foul, but the free throw was off the mark, keeping the visitors in front by a single tally.
After the Trojans’ empty possession, the Bulldogs had the ball down one with 19 seconds left. After a timeout, the Bulldogs’ entry pass into the post was tied up, and the jump ball gave possession to Girard.
Girard’s Faith Poland made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 4.7 seconds showing on the clock for a two-point cushion.
A last-second heave from Burk was no good at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs, who did not score in the final 1 minute, 30 seconds, missed nine free throws in the game, including four in the final frame.
Coach Shorter noted the game should be a good learning experience for his squad.
“It was a good opportunity for our kids to learn,” Shorter said. “I think we can gain a lot from this ballgame about ourselves moving forward for sure. The season’s not just about this one game. It’s about a lot of things ahead of us. But you have to tip your hat to Girard. They played hard and they played well.”
Buerge scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Scott had 13 and Burk added 11.
Kinley Smith scored nine points for Girard (2-0), while Emmaline Senecaut had eight.
NEXT UP: LADY EAGLE CLASSIC
Carl Junction is among the eight teams competing at this week’s Lady Eagle Classic at Joplin High School.
The Bulldogs take on Rogers (Ark.) at 5 on Thursday in an opening-round contest inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.
“It’s a great tournament, so it doesn’t get any easier for us,” Shorter said. “Our kids better be ready to play.”
In Thursday’s other opening round games, Joplin takes on Blue Valley West at 2, Leavenworth meets Farmington at 3:30 and Pea Ridge plays Blue Valley North at 6:30.