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LADY EAGLE CLASSIC: Carl Junction falls to Farmington in title game; Eagles’ late rally comes up short

Lucas Davis

Farmington put early pressure on Carl Junction on both ends of the floor to build an insurmountable cushion on the way to a 68-49 win over the Bulldogs to win the 25th annual Freeman Lady Eagle Classic.

In the third-place game, Joplin fell into an early hole against Blue Valley North only to see its late rally come up short in a 52-48 loss to the Mustangs on Saturday.



Farmington used the press early to pressure Carl Junction before catching fire behind the perimeter to build an overwhelming lead on the way to clinching the Lady Eagle Classic title game over the Bulldogs, 68-49.

Carl Junction, winners of the CJ Classic a week ago, takes second place and currently holds a 5-2 record.

“I thought our kids played hard, but we didn’t play our best basketball and (Farmington) had a lot to do with that,” Carl Junction coach Brad Shorter said. “We gave ourselves a shot early and they hit some shots, got a few offensive rebounds and we lost a few defensive assignments here and there. That is going to happen sometimes, but I am proud of them and we will keep getting better. These are games that are really good for us.”


Carl Junction’s Destiny Buerge releases a floater in the Bulldogs’ loss to Farmington in the Freeman Lady Eagle Classic title game on Saturday inside Kaminsky Gymnasium. Photo by Jessica Greninger.

The Cardinals opened the game with a full-press defense, jumping out to an 8-2 lead over the Bulldogs thanks to a deep 3-pointer from Reese Shirey and a 3-pointer from the wing by Jenna Lawrence. Carl Junction waded the storm and trailed just 14-12 after the first quarter. Destiny Buerge had five of the 12, including a 3-pointer, while Hali Shorter also had a 3-ball in the opening period.

“The thing that was frustrating for us was as a team, we typically do a good job of handling the basketball and handling the pressure,” Coach Shorter said about the pressure from Farmington’s defense. “You can see it was there at times, there were kids who were open and we just needed to make a better pass here or there. … That is something that we will continue to focus on and learn and get to where we need to be at the end of the year.”

Farmington pulled out in front and took the momentum in the second period thanks to its perimeter scoring. Lawrence knocked down two more triples in the second quarter, while Morgan Brye added a 3-pointer as well. More importantly for Farmington, Carson Dillard saw a pair of 3-pointers fall, igniting her way to a big night.

The Cardinals outscored the Bulldogs 19-7 in the second period and took a 33-19 advantage into the intermission.

“They move the ball really well and they have so many kids who can shoot it,” Coach Shorter said. “There are a couple of kids who we didn’t see shoot it the first couple of nights that hit shots tonight. That is a sign of a really good basketball team.”

Farmington started the second half even hotter than it finished the first, scoring 15 unanswered points out of the break to build a commanding 50-19 lead midway through the period. Dillard kicked off the run with two more 3-pointers before another 3-ball from Brye followed by a make from the perimeter by Megan Hernandez made the score 44-19. J’Myra London added two buckets and Dillard closed the run with a basket.

Carl Junction never recovered from the deficit.


Dillard led the Cardinals with 16 points, making four 3-pointers. Lawrence splashed home four 3-point field goals on the way to 14 points, while Brye added eight and Hernandez seven.

Buerge had 13 to lead Carl Junction, while Shorter finished with 12. Dezi Williams scored nine.


Carl Junction takes part in the Mustang Classic at McDonald County High School on Dec. 13.



After trailing nearly the entire game, Joplin rallied back in the fourth quarter and took a brief lead in the final minutes only to see Blue Valley North make enough plays to hold on for a 52-48 victory in the third-place game. 

Joplin takes fourth place and sits at 5-3 on the season.

“I am proud of them,” Joplin coach Luke Floyd said about his team’s weekend. “It is disappointing to come away with two losses because our goal in every tournament is to get at least two wins. … But, they continued to fight, they continued to battle and they gave themselves a chance at the end. At the end of the day, that is all you can ask for.”

Joplin’s Brynn Driver scores on the break during the third-place game of the Lady Eagle Classic. Photo by Jessica Greninger.


Blue Valley North came out with the first momentum swing, starting the game on a 9-1 run over the first four minutes of action with several JHS turnovers fueling the run. The Mustangs ultimately took a 12-7 lead into the half over the Eagles, with Brynn Driver accounting for all of Joplin’s points in the opening quarter.

“Turnovers, transition buckets and second-chance points,” Coach Floyd said when asked what led to the early run for BVN. “For us not starting out any better than that, that falls on me as a coach. I have to find a way to have us more prepared and ready to play coming out of the locker room.”

Blue Valley North continued as the aggressor in the second period, pushing the lead up to 12 by the intermission. Aubrey Shaw led the Mustangs in the second quarter with six points. 

The Mustangs pushed their lead to as much as 17 points in the third period, 32-15, on an inside score from Nyla Hale but Joplin was able to trim the margin back to 10 to start the fourth quarter after closing the third period on a 7-2 run highlighted by back-to-back buckets from Ella Hafer and a three-point play by from Driver.

Down 11 two minutes into the fourth, Joplin rallied back with a 10-0 run to trim the lead to one, 40-39, with four minutes to play. Hafer and Driver each had a pair of three throws in the run before Brooke Nice drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to close the surge.

“As bad as we started … to show that kind of resiliency and fight, I am extremely proud of them,” Floyd said. “If we could just get that effort for four quarters, that would be wonderful.”

The Eagles rallied all the way back to take a 43-42 after Hafer picked up a steal and finished off the play with a layup. 

“Energy and effort,” Floyd added about what led to the comeback. “I told the girls it is a pretty simple game, we just make it complicated. When we play with energy and effort and more importantly, when we play as a team instead of five individuals, we’re pretty good.

“I thought our defensive rotations were a lot better, we were able to rebound a lot better and we started moving the ball on the offensive end.”

BVN took the lead back on a pair of free throws from Tyara Davis before the Mustangs extended the lead to 48-43 with 1:15 to play after two more free throws from Shaw and a bucket from Hale.

Joplin cut the lead to one possession on a 3-pointer from Nice with 1.9 seconds left to make the score 50-48, but the Mustangs converted at the charity stripe at the other end to seal the win.

Joplin’s Ella Hafer drives for a reverse layup in the third-place game of the Freeman Lady Eagle Classic on Saturday. Photo by Jessica Greninger.


Shaw had 12 points to lead Blue Valley North, while Hale and Logan Parks each finished with 10. Caroline Cool closed the game with nine points. 

Driver led the way for Joplin with 16 points, while Hafer finished with eight points. 


Joplin is at Seneca on Dec. 17.



The following players were named to the Freeman Lady Eagle Classic All-Tournament Team: Joplin’s Brynn Driver, Blue Valley North’s Aubrey Shaw, Rogers’ Ava Maner and Perla Morales, Carl Junction’s Destiny Buerge and Farmington’s Reese Shirey, Carson Dillard and Jenna Lawrence.


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