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LADY EAGLE CLASSIC: Carl Junction advances to title game with gritty win; Joplin will play for third place

Jason Peake


The Carl Junction Bulldogs are once again playing for the Freeman Lady Eagle Classic championship. 

In what could be described as a gritty performance, Carl Junction used a strong finish to earn a 57-46 win over Blue Valley North on Friday night inside Joplin High School’s Kaminsky Gymnasium. 

The Bulldogs will take on Farmington at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday in the 25th annual event’s title game. 

The Cardinals from Arkansas rolled to a 71-18 win over Joplin in the first semifinal. Blue Valley North and Joplin will meet for third place at 4 p.m. on Saturday. 



Clinging to a five-point cushion midway through the fourth quarter, Carl Junction (5-1) used a 13-4 spurt to hold off the Mustangs. 

“Our kids really showed some toughness tonight against a really good team,” Bulldogs coach Brad Shorter said. “I’m very proud of them. We fought really hard. They were exhausted at the end of the game.” 

Down three at the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs scored the first 12 points of the second period to take a 21-12 lead. 

Destiny Buerge and Klohe Burk both hit 3-pointers during the surge, while Kylie Scott had back-to-back hoops in the paint and Buerge scored on a drive through the lane.

Blue Valley North answered with seven straight points, but a putback by Dezi Williams gave Carl Junction a 23-19 halftime advantage. 

The Bulldogs began the second half on a 9-0 run to go up 32-19, but the Mustangs once again responded, this time by finishing the third quarter on an 11-1 surge. 

With that, Carl Junction was clinging to a 33-30 lead entering the final frame. 

Leading 44-39, the Bulldogs pulled away for good. 

During the final spurt, Scott converted an old-fashioned three-point play, Buerge hit a pull-up 3-pointer from the left wing, Anna Burch made two free throws and Buerge scored on a drive through the lane before Burk and Hali Shorter contributed free throws.

“That was big for our kids,” Shorter said of the late run. “We really focus on 6-0 runs. There were times we got an 8-0 or 10-0 run, but we let them back in it. We’ve got to get better at keeping that lead and not allowing more than one shot. We’re still trying to find different rotations and we’re going to get there for sure.” 

A junior guard, Buerge scored a game-high 24 points and hit four 3-pointers to lead Carl Junction, while classmate Burk added 13 points and drained three treys. A sophomore forward, Scott gave Carl Junction three players in double figures by scoring 11. 

“I thought Destiny played outstanding and I thought Kylie played really well,” Shorter said. “A lot of our kids just played really well. And Klohe, Hali and Destiny rebounded their tails off.”

Caroline Cool scored 14 points and Aubrey Shaw added 13 for Blue Valley North. 

Playing for the Lady Eagle Classic title is nothing new for the Bulldogs. 

Carl Junction lost to Mount Vernon in last year’s title game after winning the event in 2019 and finishing as the runner-up in ’18. The Bulldogs won the tourney title in ’17.

“It’s been a different batch in the past years to play in the championship game here, but this group of kids is keeping the tradition going,” Shorter said. “That’s been huge for our program.”



The Eagles simply ran into a formidable foe.

Hot-shooting Farmington (Ark.) hit four 3-pointers in the opening frame while also forcing Joplin into a number of turnovers with an aggressive full-court press.

The Cardinals led 20-1 out of the gates and the visitors held a comfortable 24-5 lead by the end of the first quarter. 

Joplin received a free throw from Ella Hafer and two hoops from Brynn Driver, but treys from Allie Devescery and Carson Dillard extended Farmington’s lead to 33-10.

Farmington made eight 3-pointers in the first half and took a comfy 43-12 advantage into halftime.

The Cardinals took a commanding 60-16 lead into the final frame.

“They were a buzzsaw,” Eagles coach Luke Floyd said. “They shot the ball well, they passed the ball well and they defended well. They are very good. Everybody shot the ball really well. I don’t know what they shot from 3, but it had to be 50-60 percent. They are just a well-oiled machine and we had no answers for it.” 

One positive for the Eagles is the fact they’ll play for third this year after falling in the fifth place game a year ago. 

“I told the girls they need to have amnesia and just forget about this one,” Floyd said. “Tomorrow we need to come in and be the best version of us that we can be. We’ll try and come away with the third-place trophy.” 

Driver scored six points to lead Joplin (5-2), while Izzy Yust and Hafer added three points apiece. 

Dillard scored 17 points to lead the Cardinals, while Reese Shirey added 14. Thirteen different players scored in the game for Farmington. 


NOTES: In consolation bracket games, Leavenworth defeated Blue Valley West 49-40 and Rogers beat Pea Ridge 44-38.


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