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GIRLS HOOPS: Neosho pulls away from Joplin behind big 3rd quarter from McInturff

Lucas Davis

NEOSHO, Mo. — After Joplin rallied to take a halftime lead, Neosho returned the favor in a big way during the third quarter to take control on the way to a 56-31 win over the Eagles in Central Ozark Conference play on Monday.

Joplin (3-17, 0-5 COC) trailed by six heading into the second quarter before holding Neosho (10-9, 1-3 COC) to one field goal leading into halftime with the Eagles on top 17-15. Reagan McInturff carried the Wildcats to a double-digit lead by the end of the third quarter after scoring double-digit points in the period, with Neosho extending the lead down the stretch in the final eight minutes of play.

“In the locker room at halftime, I lit them up a little bit,” first-year Neosho coach Daniel Durst said after the win. “I told them if you want to win this game you have to do these things—one of those things was defense, one was rebounding and the other thing we needed to do was to get the ball to Reagan on the inside. We pulled (Karlee Ellick) out (of the lane) … and I think once they got more time to visually understand what they were going up against, it really made a difference for them. In the second half, we were just getting (Reagan) the ball and she did an amazing job posting up, getting herself open and finishing around the rim.”

“I thought our girls played extremely hard,” first-year Joplin coach Brad Cox said. “We had the lead at halftime, but Neosho made some good halftime adjustments. (Reagan McInTurff) got hot for them on the low block. I felt like we had a lot of great shot opportunities tonight, but they just didn’t fall.”


Neosho built a 13-7 lead after the first quarter thanks to a strong first quarter from McInturff, who finished the period with seven points that included a 3-pointer from the wing with 3:20 on the clock. Ellick added a pair of baskets in the paint to finish the quarter with four points.

Joplin’s defensive effort changed the momentum in the second period. The Eagles limited the Wildcats to one field goal in the quarter, eliminating their deficit and taking a 17-15 advantage into the intermission. 

“We are getting better each day,” Cox said. “In the second quarter, when we made that run—it was because we took care of the basketball. Today was probably our best day of breaking the press this season. We had some ups and downs, but that is basketball for you. I am proud of the progression from our girls.”

Joplin outscored Neosho 11-2 in the quarter, with Bailey Ledford knocking down a 3-pointer and Alissa Owens finishing with a pair of baskets.

McIntuff shouldered the load for the Wildcats in the third quarter, carrying her team to a 38-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter after scoring 12 of Neosho’s 21 third-quarter points. Meredith Baldwin also added seven points, including a 3-pointer.

“Reagan in the third quarter was pivotal to us winning this game the way we did,” Durst said. “Meredith was great for us today. Not only her scoring, and she hit some shots, but her movement without the ball was great and she did an amazing job facilitating the ball tonight. She really contributed to this win.”

Neosho pushed the lead to more than 20 for the first time with three minutes left in regulation after back to back buckets from Ellick inside, including an old-fashioned three-point play to make the score 50-29.


McInturff finished with a game-high 21 points to lead Neosho in scoring. Ellick was close behind with 17 points, seven coming in the fourth quarter. Autumn Kinnaird and Baldwin each finished seven points in the win.

Ledford had 11 to lead the Eagles in scoring. Owens finished with six and Riley Kelly added five for Joplin.


Joplin hosts Springfield Central on Wednesday.

Neosho hosts Ozark on Thursday.


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