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PREP WRESTLING: Neosho wins as hosts of annual tournament; Several Wildcats with top-five finishes

NEOSHO, Mo — Neosho had quite the showing as the hosts of the 34th annual Neosho Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, closing the day with two first-place finishes as well as a bevy of wrestlers placing in the top five as well as coming away with the top team score.

Neosho’s Eli Zar (170 pounds) and Hayden Crane (136) eached earned first-place finishes, while Fisher Butler (120), Johnny Chrisco (126) and Nico Olivares (285) each took second place. 

Wyatt Black (113), Nate Copeland (145), Jack Lankford (132), Trent Neece (160), Bostyn Patterson (162), Collyn Kivett (182) and DeLeon Ulysses (195) each finished in third place. Gabe Mabery (170) and Nathan Rogers (220) each finished in eighth place for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats also took first place in a 14-team field with a 211 score. Farmington (185.5), Belton (153), Willard (140.5) and Har-Ber (113) rounded out the top five team scores.

Crane finished pool play with a 3-0 record while defeating Har-Ber’s Lane Parrish by a 15-0 technical fall 1:42 into the third period in the 138-pound first-place match. At 170, Zar finished pool play with a 4-0 record and defeated Gary Walker of Willard by ultimate tie-breaker (2-1) in the first-place match. 

Butler went 3-0 in pool and fell to Farmington’s Presley Johnson by major decision (10-2) in the first-place match at 120, while Chrisco went 4-0 in pool play and lost to Belton’s Lane Cross by technical fall (15-0) in the first-place match. Olivares closed his day at 285 with a 4-0 record in pool play before falling to Belton’s Zach Masteller by fall 1:46 into the third period.

At 113, Black went 3-2 in pool play with wins over Kickapoo’s David Duer by fall 31 seconds into the first period, Willard’s Chris Trudell by fall 30 seconds into the first period and Bentonville West’s Ryan Swain by fall 1:50 into the third period.

Lankford went 3-1 in 132 pool play and defeated Fayetteville’s Gavin Biggerstaff in the third-place match by a 9-5 decision, with Copeland finished 2-0 in pool play at 145 with a win by fall over Belton’s Brady Littleton 1:04 into the third period. 

Patterson had a 3-1 pool play record and defeated Willard’s Andrew Keithley by fall 1:13 into the third period at 152, and Neece closed with a 3-1 record in pool play and defeated Har-Ber’s Hunter Reynolds by a 13-6 decision at 160.

Kivett finished 3-1 in pool play and finished his day with a 20-6 major decision over Bentonville West’s Kaden Heintz at 182. Ulysses closed with a 2-1 pool play record and defeated Belton’s Zach Attebury by fall 1:42 into the second period at 195.

PREP WRESTLING: Neosho returns plenty of experience for 21-22 season

NEOSHO, Mo. — Despite graduating six grapplers from a squad that went 11-0 a season ago, Neosho wrestling still has plenty of experience returning for the upcoming 2021-22 season.

“My goal for this team is to put the time and effort in to reach the goals they have set for themselves and our team,” Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips said to SoMo Sports. “Take the proper ownership for us to make our goals a reality. In the end, I want to have no regrets and look back on the progress we made and be proud. I expect for us to work, grow and overcome adversities, and as a result—live up to our motto by the end and be tough.”

The Wildcats lost six seniors from last year’s squad that totaled a record of 160-32 as well as one state title and three second-place finishes from a year ago. But, with the Neosho program consistently proving the ability to produce no matter the circumstances, it’s no surprise the Wildcats have several returners with plenty of success in their prep careers to lead the way for the upcoming season.

“Our experience definitely lies in the tradition of Neosho wrestling,” Phillips said. “We will continue to work from the top to the bottom of our lineup to be competitive and contribute to the goals of our team.”

The top returners for Neosho are juniors Eli Zar, Raymond Hembree, Hayden Crane and Trent Neece. 

Zar, a junior wrestling at 160/170, finished with a 36-8 record a year ago and finished second place at the state meet, while Hembree, also a junior, finished 41-7 last season and also earned a second-place showing at state while wrestling at 120 pounds. Crane, a senior, wrestles at 132-138 and is coming off a 39-10 record from a year ago that included a third-place finish at state. Neece, a senior who competes at 152/160 finished 31-12 last season while taking first in districts and qualifying for the state tournament .

“There are always question marks,” Phillips said. “We are working with high school kids—much more than technique that has to be addressed to be successful. I never want to doubt but you never know until you start competing and see exactly what areas need the most attention. I always say we must be hungry (passionate to improve) and healthy to be where we want to be in the end.”

Also expected to make an impact for Neosho at the varsity level this year are seniors Nate Copeland (145 pounds; 20-20 record last season), Cade Daniel (170/182; 9-11) and Eric Renner (220; 12-12), junior Collyn Kivett (170/182; 22-8), sophomores Jonny Chrisco (126/132; 18-22) and Jack Lankford (126/132; 9-2) as well as freshmen Fisher Butler (113), Logan Cass (106), Trey Hardin (152/160) and Bostyn Patterson (145/152).

Neosho opens the season with the 34th Annual Neosho Wrestling Tournament on Dec. 4.

CJ CLASSIC: Joplin beats McDonald County; Neosho falls to Springdale

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Joplin shook off a slow start and pulled away in the second half to a 53-33 win over McDonald County, while Neosho fell in an early hole against Springdale and never recovered in a 42-27 loss in the consolation semifinals of the CJ Classic on Tuesday.

 

JOPLIN 53, MCDONALD COUNTY 33

After a slow-moving first half, Joplin gained some cushion in the third period before building an insurmountable lead in the final quarter on the way to the win over McDonald County in the CJ Classic consolation semifinals on Tuesday.

“In the first half, I thought we looked very timid and played a lot like we did last night,” Joplin coach Luke Floyd said. “We just didn’t trust what we were supposed to do. In the second half, we simplified things and just went out and did our jobs. We couldn’t even get lined up where we needed to be in our sets in the first half. Once we were able to do that in the second half, we were able to get some easy looks offensively. It also opened things up outside. Defensively, I thought we really clamped down and limited their looks.”

Free throws also played a major role for Joplin’s struggles and success on offense. In the first half, the Eagles were 6-of-16 shooting from the charity stripe. Joplin made 11-of-14 attempts from the line in the second half.

“We really challenged them at halftime,” Coach Floyd said. “We are too good of a shooting team to be 6-of-16 from the line, and we let them know it. We also turned the ball over way too much in the first half. To the girls’ credit, they really stepped up and made an adjustment.”

Joplin trailed 7-6 after the first quarter before taking a 21-20 lead into halftime. It was in the third quarter where the Eagles gained some separation from the Mustangs.

Brooke Nice opened the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers to spark a 6-1 Joplin run, giving the Eagles a 27-21 advantage. 

“Brooke is such a good shooter,” Coach Floyd said. “She made a couple off the inbounds. They were really worried about that pass back inside to Emma or Ella, which opened her up outside. Once her shot goes in, she is going to end up hitting three or four.”

Joplin carried that momentum in the fourth quarter, sporting a 33-28 lead after McDonald County’s Reagan Myrick earned a steal for a fast-break score with two seconds left to end the third.

Riley Kelly sparked Joplin out of the break, converting inside to get the scoring started in the fourth before she knocked down a 3-pointer off the assists from Ella Hafer to push the lead to 10 for the first time, 38-28.

“I can’t say enough about Riley coming in off the bench as a freshman,” Coach Floyd said. “We just told her, ‘Welcome to big girl basketball’. She came in and played her tail off, doing some good things for us.”
Joplin put the game away moments later when the Eagles hit their stride on both ends of the floor with a 13-0 run. 

“We went to our press and mixed up a little bit of what we were showing to force some turnovers and get some easy looks,” Coach Floyd said. “Even in the halfcourt, we were playing with a lot more energy. Coming out of last night, that was the biggest focus tonight—playing with energy and effort. I told them last night that I wasn’t coaching effort anymore. I felt like I didn’t have to do that at all tonight. The girls really stepped up, especially in the third and fourth quarter.”

Brynn Driver started the run with an old-fashioned three-point play before Emma Floyd grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled on the way back up and knocked down the two ensuing free throws. Hafer added two makes at the stripe before she added a fast-break score off a McDonald County turnover to make the score 47-30. Floyd added two more free throws and added a score inside to push the lead to more than 20 points for the first time, 51-30, with time dwindling.

SCORING LEADERS

Nice led Joplin with 15 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Kelly scored 11 and Hafer 10. Floyd finished with eight points, and Driver added seven in the win.

Nevaeh Dodson and Addy Leach each scored seven points to lead the Mustangs. Samara Smith finished with six and Jacie Frencken had five.

UP NEXT

Joplin takes on Springdale in the consolation finals with a 5:30 p.m. tip on Thursday.

 

SPRINGDALE 42, NEOSHO 27

Springdale started fast to build a double-digit lead by halftime before pulling away down the stretch for a win over Neosho in the consolation semifinals.

Springdale took control of the contest in the first quarter after outscoring Neosho 15-7. The Bulldogs took an 11-point, 21-10, lead into the intermission before holding serve in the second half.

Springdale was led in scoring Aubriana Wilson and Adriana Hernandez, who each had 10 points in the win. Carolinda Hudson added nine points.

Beclynn Garrett led Neosho with nine points, while Karlee Ellick finished with eight points. Reagan McInturff added five points.

Neosho plays McDonald County at 4 p.m. on Thursday in the seventh-place game.

CJ CLASSIC: Carl Junction, Seneca rally for wins in opening round action

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Carl Junction and Seneca will match up in the semifinals after each team shook off slow starts to rally for wins in the opening round of the CJ Classic on Monday. 

Seneca trailed by eight early before going on to beat Springdale, Arkansas, 61-48 in the third game of the day before Carl Junction rallied from a two-point first quarter to beat Neosho 48-34 in the nightcap to close the opening round as the hosts.

 

CARL JUNCTION 48, NEOSHO 34

Neosho’s defense limited Carl Junction to a pair of free throws in the first quarter before the Bulldogs turned their season opener around with a game-changing run to open the second quarter that ultimately led to an insurmountable lead by the end of the third quarter in the win over the Wildcats (2-2).

“A win is a win and we will certainly take it,” Carl Junction coach Brad Shorter said. “Neosho played their tails off. I thought our kids were a little nervous. We came out and didn’t shoot the ball real well. … There were some (good) spurts, but it’s early in the season and we have a lot of work to do. … We’ll take it and move on.”

Neosho held a 6-2 lead over Carl Junction at the end of the first quarter on two baskets from Karlee Ellick and a buzzer beater by Reagan McInturff.

The Bulldogs took the momentum out of the break with a 9-0 run to start the second quarter. Dezi Williams earned a steal and score on the break to kick off the run before she grabbed her own miss on the next possession and found Klohe Burk on the baseline for a jumper to tie the game at 6-6. Kylie Scott added a pair of makes at the charity stripe before a 3-pointer from the wing by Hali Shorter gave CJ an 11-6 lead.

“That was huge for us because we had to get some momentum going,” Shorter said of the run to start the second period. “We feel like we can score the ball, but sometimes our defense is going to have to create those opportunities for us and it did. That was a big piece for us in that run.”

Neosho tied the game at 11-11 with 3:05 left in the half on a wing 3-ball from Jayden Adams and an inside score by Ellick, but Carl Junction amped up the defense in the final three minutes and turned several turnovers into a five points from Burk, including a 3-pointer, and a basket from Williams to score the final seven points for an 18-11 lead at halftime.

The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 10, 23-13, with six minutes to play in the third quarter after a steal and fastbreak score by Scott. Carl Junction extended the lead to 16 late in the third with scores from Shorter and Destiny Buerge off consecutive Neosho turnovers. Scott grabbed an offensive board for a basket to make the score 36-20 to close the period.

“I think that was a little bit of the experience,” Shorter noted about his team’s ability to push the lead out in the third quarter. “This group has played in some big games throughout their careers. … We settled into some things, and we still have a long way to go but it was big to know what we wanted to do and to get it done.”

Neosho didn’t go away quietly, scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to single digits, 36-27. Beclynn Garrett opened the run with a 3-pointer before Raine Harris scored on the drive and Ellick added two free throws.

Carl Junction responded right back and ended any chance at a rally with seven unanswered points behind a defensive rebound turning into a coast-to-coast layup for Scott and five straight points from Ellie Lawson, including a triple from the wing with 3:30 left in regulation to push the lead back out to 16 points, 43-27.

“That was big for our kids, especially for the youth that we have on this team,” Shorter added about his team’s late response to adversity. “They took that shot and just threw it right back at them. That was a big run for us.”

SCORING LEADERS

Scott had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Williams, Lawson and Buerge each finished with seven. Shorter and Burk each closed with five points in the win.

Garrett scored 12 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers, to lead the Wildcats with 12 points. Ellick and Harris each finished with eight points in the loss.

UP NEXT

Carl Junction takes on Seneca at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals on Tuesday, while Neosho battles Springdale in the consolation bracket at 5:30.

 

SENECA 61, SPRINGDALE (ARK) 48

Seneca shook off a slow start before rallying behind a strong third quarter en route to a win over Springdale, Arkansas, in the opening round of the CJ Classic on Monday.

Springdale held an early 12-4 lead to open the game before Seneca rallied to close the first in a one-point deficit. The Indians opened the second half with all of the momentum, building a double digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish down the stretch.

Springdale jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter after starting the game on a 12-4 run thanks to a pair of baskets inside by Nevaeh Griffin and 3-pointers by Adriana Hernandez and Carolinda Hudson.

Aliya Grotjohn put the Indians on her back to close out the first quarter, rallying Seneca with a 7-0 run by herself to trim the deficit to 12-11 by the sound of the horn. Grotjohn had a pair of free throws to go along with a mid-range jumper and a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to close the first quarter.

Parker Long scored on the inside out of the break to give Seneca its first lead of the game before six straight points from Springdale put the Bulldogs on top 18-13. The Indians responded with a 9-4, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Grotjohn that included a stepback to tie the game at 20-20. Both teams went into the intermission tied at 22.

The Indians took control of the game to open the second half, surging in front behind a 10-3 run. Long scored inside to start the run, while Hazley Grotjohn had two free throws. Aliya Grotjohn grabbed an offensive rebound for a putback bucket before knocking down a floater to close the run with the Indians sporting a 32-25 advantage.

Aliya Grotjohn sank a top-of-the-key 3-ball and added a score on the break to extend the margin to 37-27 with 3:40 left in the period. Hazley Grotjohn closed the third quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play before knocking down a floater to give Seneca a 42-31 lead starting the final period of play.

Seneca started the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run, including a 3-pointer from Aliya Grotjohn, to push the lead to 50-34 with 5:10 remaining in the contest.

Springdale rallied to cut the deficit to single digits, 50-41, thanks to a 7-0 run, with Hudson accounting for four of those points, but the Grotjohn sisters accounted for the next five points to give Seneca a 55-41 advantage, ending any chance at a comeback before the final horn.

SCORING LEADERS

Aliyah Grotjohn led all scorers with 31 points, while Hazley Grotjohn finished with 12. Long had six.

Hudson and Aubriana Wilson each scored 13 to lead Springdale. Hernandez finished with 11 points.

UP NEXT

Seneca advances to face Carl Junction in the semifinal round with an 8:30 p.m. tip on Tuesday.

 

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Grotjohn sisters lead Seneca past Neosho

 

SENECA, Mo. — Senior guard Aliya Grotjohn scored 25 points to lead Seneca to a 51-39 win over Neosho on Monday night in a non-conference girls basketball contest.

It was the season opener for the Indians (1-0), while Neosho fell to 1-1. 

After a sluggish start, Seneca finished the first quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 16-9 lead. The Indians pulled away in the second period and the hosts were up 37-19 at intermission. 

Aliya Grotjohn scored 18 points in the first half, while her younger sister Hazley Grotjohn added 10.

Seneca held a comfortable 43-23 lead entering the fourth quarter. 

Neosho trimmed its deficit to 11 late in the game, but the Wildcats would get no closer. 

In addition to Aliya Grotjohn’s 25 points, Hazley Grotjohn, a freshman guard, added 13 points for the Indians.

Junior forward Karlee Ellick led Neosho with 18 points, while junior guard Raine Harris added 10 points. 

The Indians will compete at next week’s Carl Junction Classic.

Neosho hosts Clinton on Tuesday. 

 

NEOSHO 46, LAMAR 30

Neosho defeated Lamar 46-30 last Friday.

Against the Tigers, Neosho’s Reagan McInturff scored 11 points, while Beclynn Garrett and Jayden Adams added eight points apiece.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Junior class to lead Neosho girls in the upcoming season

NEOSHO, Mo. — Despite being down two starters from graduation and a third because of an injury, the Wildcats are looking to use the experience they do have returning to build off of last season under then first-year head coach Ryan Madison.

Neosho is without leading scorer Olivia Hixon and Michelle Lindsay, who both graduated, and will also be without junior Baylie Bowers, who is out for the year after suffering an injury in the fall during softball. 

Fortunately for Neosho, the returning players with varsity experience are all juniors, which means this group has a minimum of two years together to build something similar to what the Wildcats’ 9-4 start from last season. 

Leading the list of returners with starting experience is junior 6-foot-1 forward Reagan McInturff, who averaged 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds a game last season. Joining McInturff is 5-7 junior G Raine Harris, who averaged 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, and 5-7 junior G/F Maelynn Garrett, who averaged 1.4 points and 1.9 rebounds last season.

“We are hoping to improve on last year’s record and be much more competitive in the COC,” Madison said to SoMo Sports. “We have good size, and I think we should have a little more buy in.”

Adding to the there with starting experience, the Wildcats also welcome back 6-1 junior F Karlee Ellick (who averaged 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds), 5-10 junior F Meredith Baldwin and 5-5 junior G Jayden Adams.

Seniors Taigen Mitchell (5-4 guard) and Emily Phillips (5-6 guard) are also expected to contribute at the varsity level, and they will be joined by varsity newcomers Beclynn Garrett, a 5-9 freshman guard, and sophomore G Courtney Thomason. 

“(We have a) huge junior class with players who have played a lot of varsity basketball,” Madison said. “We have two seniors who would like to end their careers on a high note and a very talented freshman class as well.”

Neosho opens the season with a home matchup against Lamar on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

COLLEGE SIGNINGS: Neosho’s Graue, Cole sign letters of intent

NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho seniors Lili Graue and Kaden Cole put the pen to paper on Tuesday, committing to compete in their respective sports at the collegiate level.

Graue, an outfielder on the softball team, committed to play for Labette Community College, while Cole, a distance runner, committed to Missouri Southern for cross country.

“It means a lot to me because I am very competitive myself, so to join a competitive program such as Labette, it is just really rewarding,” Graue said of her commitment. “I know I am going to fit in well there.” 

“It is an amazing feeling,” Cole said. “I have been dreaming about this for the last four years at, just to be able to continue my athletic career at the next level. This is awesome.” 

Cole capped his senior cross country season in style, finishing in sixth place in the Class 5 state run in a time of 15 minutes, 33 seconds. Cole also won the Central Ozark Conference meet and finished sixth in the district run to earn all-conference, district and state honors.

“It’s amazing to me,” Cole said when asked about being able to stay in the area while running for a powerhouse program. “Being local was one of my main things. And the team there is pretty cool. … (The coaching staff) was just really welcoming to my family.”” 

Graue hit .489 at the plate and finished with a .550 on-base percentage for the Wildcats her senior season. She finished with 43 hits, eight doubles, 12 stolen bases and one home run, driving in 23 and scoring 32 runs. In her final season at Neosho, she garnered first-team all-conference, region and state recognition.

“It means everything to me to be able to play at the collegiate level because all of the hard work and dedication I have put into softball has paid off, and it is so rewarding,” Graue said. “It is a huge opportunity that not everyone gets, and I’m very fortunate to be able to continue the journey. I have wanted to play college ball my entire life. Knowing that I get to do that is very exciting.”

PREP FOOTBALL: Neosho suffers season-ending loss to Willard; Taute proud of his team’s effort

NEOSHO, Mo. —  Moments after a disheartening loss ended the 2021 campaign, Brandon Taute made sure his Neosho Wildcats understood one simple message. 

“I just let everybody know that I love them,” Taute said. “And that doesn’t change based on the outcome of a football game. I’m here for them for the rest of their lives. We have a lifetime commitment to each other.”

Taute’s fourth-seeded Neosho Wildcats suffered a 56-35 loss to the fifth-seeded Willard Tigers on Friday night in a quarterfinal matchup of the Class 5 District 6 football tournament at Bob Anderson Stadium. 

The Tigers (1-9) earned a date with top-seeded Carthage (9-0) next Friday in the district semifinals, while the Wildcats (1-9) saw the season come to an abrupt end.

Neosho defeated Willard 21-14 just two weeks ago, but the Tigers simply had more firepower this time around. 

“They had a couple guys back that we knew were going to help them offensively and defensively,” Taute said of the Tigers. “Hats off to them. They had a good gameplan and they executed it really well.” 

Neosho’s Jared Siler looks for running room against Willard on Friday night at Bob Anderson Stadium. Photos by Israel Perez.

Willard’s highest scoring output prior to Friday night was 21 points in a loss to Republic. 

After surrendering an early touchdown, Willard scored 28 unanswered points to take control.

The Wildcats didn’t quit, as the hosts pulled within 14 at the end of the third period. But the Tigers would not be denied, as the visitors recorded three unanswered scores to start the final frame to put the game out of reach. 

Neosho junior running back Jared Siler scored on a 2-yard touchdown run at the 10:15 mark of the opening quarter to give the Wildcats an early advantage. A 54-yard pass from sophomore Quenton Hughes to junior Isaiah Green set up the score.

Willard tied it up with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter on Owen Bushnell’s 10-yard TD run. 

The Tigers took a 14-7 lead on Bushnell’s 22-yard touchdown run with 5:18 left in the second quarter.

The Wildcats had two promising drives halted late in the second half, one on an interception in the end zone and another on a turnover on downs.

Willard went up 21-7 with 37 seconds left in the first half on a Russell Roweton QB keeper. 

Bushnell’s third touchdown of the night, a 1-yard plunge, extended Willard’s lead to 28-7 at the 7:45 mark of the third quarter. 

The Wildcats trimmed their deficit to 28-14 after Siler’s 2-yard TD run with 4:43 remaining in the third period. A pass to junior Brock Franklin set up the score.

Willard took a 35-14 lead, but Neosho answered when Hughes connected with Green on a 45-yard TD pass. 

With three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Willard held a 56-21 lead.

Neosho’s Franklin scored on a 50-yard pass play and Siler added a 66-yard touchdown run with just under a minute to play for the final margin. 

Taute noted he was pleased with his team’s effort. 

“We were able to chip away in the second half and our kids kept fighting,” Taute said. “I’m extremely proud of them. Some kids would fold in that situation and ours absolutely didn’t. They kept fighting until the end.” 

Taute noted his 17 seniors will be missed. 

“They’re great, high-character kids,” Taute said. “As great as you can get…the kids you want your son to grow up to be like. I love them to death. For our other kids, it’s time to get better.” 

Next Friday’s other district semifinal will feature No. 3 Republic traveling to No. 2 Webb City. Republic upended No. 6 Parkview 54-0 on Friday.

 

Neosho’s Brock Franklin looks to avoid a Willard defensive back after hauling in a pass on Friday night.

 

Isaiah Green heads to the end zone during Friday’s playoff game against Willard. All photos by Israel Perez.

DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL: Neosho’s season comes to an end with a loss to Ray-Pec in district opener

Fourth-seeded Raymore-Peculiar earned a 3-0 win over fifth-seeded Neosho to kick off Class 5 District 12 play on Thursday inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.

The Panthers (14-18-1) took control of the match after earning a 25-14 win in the opening set. The Wildcats jumped out in front of the second set to take a five-point lead midway through before Ray-Pec rallied to earn a 25-20 victory. The Panthers took early control of the final set before closing out the sweep 25-15.

Neosho closes the season with a 6-21-5 record in Jessica Crow’s first season at the helm as head coach. The Wildcats graduate seniors Alexa Laney and Rylee Amato.

Neosho’s Delaynie Kelly earns a kill in the Wildcats’ loss to Ray-Pec on Thursday in the Class 5 District 12 tournament. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

“We are very young and I see a bright future for my team, especially our young athletes,” Crow said. “My seniors have been great leaders this year, but I hate that the season ended the way it did for them. I think our culture is changing into something positive.”

“They have been the best,” Crow added about Laney and Amato leaving as seniors. “They have really led this team, putting themselves out there to help the team and rebuild the culture. … They are going to be hard to replace, and our girls were lucky to have them.”

Neosho started the opening set on a 4-1 run backed by a kill from Delaynie Kelly before Ray-Pec used a kill from Tia Storms and a four-point service run from Ava Rann to go up 6-4. The Wildcats battled back to take a 7-6 lead on a block by Karlee Ellick, but back to back kills by Kylee Harris and Storms as part of a four-point run staked the Panthers to a 11-10 advantage. A five-point run in service by Harris, which included an ace, kills from Harris, Storms and Avery Lowe and a block by Lowe, pushed the lead to 20-11, with Ray-Pec finishing the first game shortly after on an ace from Rann.

The Wildcats and Panthers had a tight battle in the early onset of the second game before a six-point service run from Laney gave Neosho a 14-9 advantage, with Miranda Wennhold and Kelly earning a kill. Ray-Pec rallied to take a 21-8 lead fueled by a long service run from McKenzie Marsh, which included consecutive aces, before eventually finishing off the second game moments later.

“We had a lot of bright spots in these matches,” Crow said. “Honestly, we are doing a better job of not giving up when we face adversity. We are still showing the effort to go out and make things happen when we are in a huge hole. I think we just have to work on consistency, and I think it will get better with us being so young and having so many sophomores who have never touched a varsity court before this year. I think getting a taste of that this year will help them grow and will take it head on next season.”

Neosho’s Karlee Ellick earns a kill in the Wildcats’ loss to Ray-Pec in the district opener on Thursday. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

Sierra Jett earned three straight aces for the Panthers early in the third set to build a 9-4 lead. Meredith Baldwin recorded three consecutive kills to answer back for Neosho, cutting the lead to 9-7. The Panthers methodically built their lead up 22-10 thanks to eight straight points and went off to finish the sweep shortly after.

STATS

Wennhold led Neosho with seven kills, while Baldwin added five kills and three blocks. Jayley Ackerson had seven digs, while Laney had four digs and two aces.

UP NEXT

Ray-Pec takes on top-seeded Carthage in the district semifinals at 4 p.m. on Saturday inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.

PREP VOLLEYBALL ROUNDUP: Carthage, Joplin win in season finales; District play on the horizon

CARTHAGE BEATS WEBB CITY IN FOUR SETS TO CLOSE REGULAR SEASON

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage closed out the regular season with a four-set win over Webb City 27-29, 25-21, 25-23 and 25-19 on Tuesday. 

Carthage finishes the regular season with a 17-13-1 record and is the No. 1 seed in the Class 5 District 12 tournament hosted by Joplin. The Tigers take on the winner of fourth-seeded Raymore-Peculiar and fifth-seeded Neosho at 4 p.m. on Saturday inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.

Webb City finishes the season with a 17-12-2 record and is the second seed in the Class 4 District 12 quarterfinals, where the Cardinals will face third-seeded Nevada at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Carl Junction High School.

Sydnee Dudolski led Carthage with 23 kills and 23 digs. Mia Camarillo had 12 kills, with Grace Pickering finishing with 10 kills, five digs and four blocks. Raven Probert had 28 assists and 14 digs, and Olivia Bougault had 32 digs.

 

JOPLIN ENDS REGULAR SEASON WITH WIN OVER NEOSHO

NEOSHO, Mo. — Joplin ended the regular season on a high note after earning a 25-22, 25-10 and 25-14 win over Neosho on Tuesday.

The Eagles finish the regular season with a 13-11-5 record and play as the second seed in the Class 5 District 12 tournament. Joplin hosts third-seeded Belton (14-14-3) in the semifinals at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Neosho (6-19-5) takes on fourth-seeded Raymore-Peculiar (10-15-1) at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the opening round of Class 5 District 12 play inside Kaminsky Gymnasium. 

In the win over the Wildcats, Angelina Schramm and Emma Floyd each had 11 kills to lead the Eagles. Schramm added two aces and three digs, while had a block and block assist. Abby Edwards added nine kills and two digs, while Allie Lawrence and Bailey Owens each added seven kills. Lawrence had 15 digs and an ace. Paisley Parker had 30 digs and three assists. Kaya Cooper had 25 assists and four digs, while Abby Hembree had 17 assists and six digs.

 

CARL JUNCTION FALLS TO NIXA IN FINALE

NIXA, Mo. — Carl Junction closed the regular season with a 25-21, 25-21 and 25-17 defeat against Nixa on Tuesday in the regular season finale. 

The Bulldogs end the regular season with a 23-10 record and is the top seed in the Class 4 District 12 tournament. Carl Junction hosts the winner of fourth-seeded McDonald County (5-20) and fifth-seeded Monett (4-20-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Destiny Buerge led Carl Junction with 13 kills and 10 digs against the Eagles. Logan Jones had 26 assists and three blocks, while Olivia Vediz added 13 digs and three aces. Maggie Brown had 12 digs.

THOMAS JEFFERSON FALLS TO GOLDEN CITY

GOLDEN CITY, Mo. — Thomas Jefferson closed out the regular season in a three-game defeat against Golden City 25-19, 25-13 and 25-12 on Tuesday.

Third-seeded Thomas Jefferson battles sixth-seeded Bronaugh in the opening round of the Class 1 District 9 tournament on Thursday.

PREP FOOTBALL: Neosho earns first win against Willard 21-14

NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho cashed in on its first win of the season after battling to a 21-14 win over Willard on Friday at Bob Anderson Stadium.

The Wildcats (1-7) jumped out in front in the first quarter before the Tigers (0-8) tied the game up midway through the second period. Neosho and Willard traded scores to keep the game tied before the Wildcats found the end zone with less than two minutes to play. The Wildcats held Willard from scoring in a goal-to-goal situation as time expired to preserve the win.

Neosho jumped out in front on its second drive of the game when Jared Siler broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run up the middle, weaving his way to the pylon of the end zone to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead at the 8:44 mark of the first quarter.

Willard’s Gary Walker tied the game up with a 43-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7.

Neosho battled back across with the goal line in the third quarter when Siler found paydirt for a second time with a 2-yard run near the six-minute mark to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.

Willard tied the game up at 14-14 with 7:45 left in the game after Tyler Janes crossed the goal line from 2 yards out.

Neosho took the lead back with less than two minutes to play when Siler rushed for a touchdown from 6 yards out to make the score 21-14 with 1:55 left to play. The touchdown was set up by a long pass from Quenton Hughes to Isaiah Green.

The Tigers drove the ball down inside the Wildcats’ 10 with time dwindling, but Neosho prevented Willard from crossing the goal line with enough stops by the time time expired.

Neosho closes out the regular season with a road matchup at Joplin on Friday.

PREP SOFTBALL: McDonald County pulls away from Neosho in Class 4 District 6 semifinals

NEOSHO, Mo. — Top-seeded McDonald County made the most of the miscues by fourth-seeded Neosho on the way to a 13-2 win in five innings in the Class 4 District 6 semifinals on Thursday at the Neosho Athletic Complex. 

The Mustangs (24-6) plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the first before the Wildcats cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the third. McDonald County hung three runs on the board in the third before scoring eight times in the fourth to build an insurmountable cushion. Of the 13 runs scored by McDonald County, just four of them were earned as Neosho committed six errors on the night.

“From the very first inning, we made adjustments up and down the lineup to put the ball in play and put pressure on them,” McDonald County coach Heath Alumbaugh said. “In playoff softball, you have to put pressure on a defense and see what happens. We were able to do that. … It was a great team win.”

Neosho finishes the season with a 14-14 record, while graduating seniors Kaitlyn Killion, Lili Graue, Alivia Campbell and Maddie Carpenter.

McDonald County advances to the district title game for the fourth straight season and takes on third-seeded Webb City at 5 p.m. in the district finals on Friday. The contest is a rematch of last season’s district championship, with Webb City walking away with a 5-0 win.

IN THE CIRCLE

Madeline McCall earned the complete-game win after allowing two runs, one earned, on one hit, four walks and 10 strikeouts in five innings of work.

“Madeline McCall is a fierce competitor and has been for four years,” Alumbaugh said. “She is going to continue to be for however long we have her for the rest of this season. That is what she came out and did tonight. She came out and fought through it.”

Chloe Patterson started and took the loss for Neosho after allowing nine runs, three earned, on six hits, a walk and seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings, while Carleigh Kinnaird allowed four unearned runs on two walks in a third of an inning.

GAME ACTION

McDonald County got the scoring started in the bottom of the first when Reagan Myrick reached on a throwing error that allowed a run to cross home in the process for a 1-0 lead. The Mustangs added a second run later in the inning on an RBI groundout by Adasyn Leach to make the score 2-0.

“Early runs can be the difference,” Alumbaugh said. “It just ratchets up the pressure right away. If you have a chance to get those runs early, you have to take advantage.” 

The Wildcats cut the lead in half in the top of the third when Graue reached on the free pass before coming around to score on an RBI single by McKaylie Forrest to make the score 2-1.

The Mustangs responded in the bottom of the third, with Carlee Cooper tripling to left-center before touching home on an infield hit by Myrick to push the lead back to two runs, 3-1. A pair of runners crossed home later in the inning on a Neosho error on a fly ball with two outs to make the score 5-1.

“We challenge our girls to win or tie every inning,” Alumbaugh said about his team’s ability to answer back after giving up a run. “At times, teams are going to get the best of you and push your back against the wall. But you have to come back fighting, and I felt like we did a good job of that today.”

Neosho added a run in the top of the fourth when Maddie Carpenter scored on a wild pitch, but McDonald County once again answered back in the bottom half when Leach singled to center with the bases loaded to plate a pair of runs and push the lead to 7-2. McDonald County put the game away later in the inning when a run scored on an error before back-to-back walks with the bases loaded forced in runs to make the score 10-2. Three more runs came around to score on another fielding error with the bases loaded pushed the lead to 13-2.

AT THE PLATE

Cooper had three hits, three RBI and scored twice to lead McDonald County. Leach had one hit, three RBI and scored a run, while Nevaeah Dodson had a hit, scored twice and drove in one.

Forrest had the lone hit and RBI for Neosho.

PREP SOFTBALL: Neosho rallies past Branson in district opener

NEOSHO, Mo. — Trailing by three runs with two and a half innings in the books, fourth-seeded Neosho rallied and outscored fifth-seeded Branson 5-1 on the way to a 6-5 win on Wednesday in the Class 4 District 6 opening round at the NHS Athletic Complex.

The Pirates (12-15) scored two runs each in the top of the second and third innings to gain a 4-1 advantage before the Wildcats (12-10) rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 4-4. Neosho manufactured the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and did the same in the fifth for insurance. Branson made a push at the tie in the top of the seventh before the final out was made.

“We are missing a lot of pieces,” Neosho coach Catie Cummins said. “We are down several players … so we are just trying to piece together some wins to keep our season going. I was really pleased with our girls’ fight today. … We were hitting the ball hard and fortunately they had some misplays in the outfield, which led to us being able to score more runs—so I was pleased with that. I thought our defense looked really sharp. We made a couple of errors but we found a way to work out of it. It doesn’t say pretty or ugly, it just says win. So, I am pleased we are moving on to tomorrow.”

IN THE CIRCLE

Carleigh Kinnaird started for Neosho and took a no-decision after allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits, two walks and a strikeout in 2 1/3 innings. Chloe Patterson earned the win in relief after allowing one unearned run on four hits, a walk and two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of relief.

“We had been starting Chloe and bringing Carleigh in relief,” Cummins said. “We felt good about our bats and wanted to change it up to see what we could do. We knew we would get quality work from both of them. … I was really pleased with them.”

Peyton Bonsey took the loss after allowing six runs on nine hits, a walk and three strikeouts in six full innings.

GAME ACTION

Neosho took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Lili Graue led off with a double to left-center before coming around to score on a sacrifice fly to left by Beclynn Garrett.

Branson rallied in the top of the second inning after Langley Miller led off with a walk before moving to second after a fielder’s choice throwing error with one out. Jerzi Yacko followed with a single to right field to plate Miller and tie the game at 1-1. Bonsey followed with a sac fly to give the Pirates a 2-1 advantage. 

Branson added insurance in the top of the third when Ally Dicken walked to lead off the inning before coming around to touch home on a two-run home run to center field by Sierra Dailey two batters later to make the score 4-1.

Neosho found its rhythm at the plate in the bottom of the third inning when Graue led the inning off with a single before Garrett followed with an infield hit. After a sac fly from Kaitlyn Killion cut the lead to 4-2, McKaylie Forrest tripled to left field to drive home a run and make the score 4-3. The Wildcats came all the way back to tie it in the next at-bat when Abbie Carpenter doubled to left to score a run and tie the game at 4-4.

“Just passing the at-bat,” Cummins said of her team’s third inning. “We were hitting her hard, we just had to string some of them together. That is something we haven’t consistently done throughout the year. So, if we are doing it now that is the best time of the year to be clicking and putting those hits together.”

After racking up four hits in the third, Neosho went to manufacturing runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. The Wildcats took the 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Maddie Carpenter led off the inning with a triple to left field before coming around to score on an RBI groundout by Graue. 

Killion led off the top of the fifth with a double and ultimately scored on an RBI groundout from Abbie Carpenter to push the lead to 6-4.

“I would have liked to score a couple more than just being up two in the last inning because as you can tell, it’s anybody’s game in the postseason,” Cummins said. “Fortunately, we had enough insurance that we were able to work out of it.”

Branson made it interesting in the top of the seventh after using a single and a walk with one out to put the tying runs on base, with Dailey reaching on a Neosho fielding error in the next at-bat to load the bases. Miller cut the lead to 6-5 with a sac fly to center. Sadie Lampe hit a ground ball to short and reached on a fielding miscue by Garrett, but Garrett recovered nicely and gunned the runner down at home trying to score for the final out, preserving the win and the Wildcats’ season.

AT THE PLATE

Graue had two hits, an RBI and scored two runs to lead Neosho in the batter’s box. Forrest had two hits, an RBI and scored a run, while Carpenter had a hit and drove in two.

Miller had two hits, drove in one and scored a run, while Dailey had a home run, two RBI and scored a run.

UP NEXT

Neosho will take on top-seeded McDonald County in the district semifinals at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

PREP CROSS COUNTRY ROUNDUP: Neosho sweeps titles at McDonald County; Carthage competes in Branson

 

NEOSHO CLAIM TITLES AT MCDONALD COUNTY

ANDERSON, Mo. — Neosho’s boys and girls cross country teams both captured team championships at the McDonald County Meet at the Rock Invitational on Saturday.

With four runners in the top 10, Neosho’s boys had 31 points. East Newton was second with 49 and Lamar took third with 69. 

Neosho’s Kaden Cole won the boys race in 17:03. Monett’s Julio Cruz took second in 17:44, while Neosho’s Carson Newell was third in 18:40. 

East Newton’s Isaac Bales and Kelton Sorrell finished fourth and fifth, while Nevada’s Kaden Padgett took sixth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Neosho’s Harry Slinkard, Lamar’s Blaine Breshears, Neosho’s Bryce Hall and Lamar’s Quintin Webb. 

Neosho’s Connor Jordon finished 15th, while teammates Gabriel Mabrey and Corbin Goins were 21st and 25th, respectively. 

With four runners in the top 11, Neosho’s girls finished with 31 points and Logan-Rogersville was second with 49. 

Lamar’s Kiersten Potter was the individual champion in 21:02, while Neosho’s Chloe Wood took second in 21:12.

Rounding out the top five were Aurora’s Kaci Singer, Neosho’s Riley Kemna and Nevada’s Avery Morris.

Neosho’s Makenna Davis and Bailey Miller were 10th and 11th, while teammate Adrianna Adams took 17th.

Also of note, Lamar’s Mikayla Madison was ninth and teammate Abigail Diggs took 12th, while Monett’s Mary Jastal was 14th and McDonald County’s Clara Horton finished 15th. 

 

CARTHAGE COMPETES IN BRANSON

BRANSON, Mo. — Carthage’s cross country squads competed at the Cedar Ridge Invitational on Saturday.

In the varsity boys race, Carthage’s Mariques Strickland finished eighth with a time of 17 minutes flat.

Carthage’s Joseph Wyrick and Eddy Fuentes finished 29th and 30th, respectively. Caleb Fewin was 36th, Emerson Ixcol Gonzalez was 46th and Landen Schrader took 50th.

The Tigers finished fifth in the team standings with 145 points. Kickapoo (29) and Branson (89) were the top two teams.  

In the girls race, Carthage freshman Katelyn Witherspoon was 23rd in 22:37. 

Also for the Tigers, Alyssa Williams was 48th, Jennifer Rodas-Gomez took 54th, Mildred Elias-Garcia was 57th, Sonia Lopez-Gramajo was 61st and Mildred Vicente-Hernandez was 62nd. 

Carthage was eighth in the standings with 220 points.

Kickapoo (59) and Republic (66) were the top two teams.

PREP FOOTBALL: Ozark hands Neosho 42-14 loss

OZARK, Mo. — Despite a pair of quick scores by both the Neosho Wildcats and the Ozark Tigers in the first quarter, the game was never truly in doubt.

Ozark simply dominated the Wildcats, scoring at will and ending with a commanding 42-14 win.

The Wildcats (0-7) started the game on their own 16, lost a yard on their first play of the game, before ultimately going four-and-out.

A high, short punt left the Tigers (2-5) in great field position on the Wildcat 26-yard line, which they did not hesitate to capitalize on.

With 8:41 left in the first quarter quarterback Jace Easley rumbled in from 8 yards, and the point after kick made the score 7-0

On their next possession, the Wildcats struck quickly, on a 26-yard run by Jared Siler that was set up by a 35-yard pass to Isaiah Green, and after the kick with 5:04 left in the quarter the score was tied 7-all.

It was the last time Neosho would score until the closing seconds of the third quarter.

With 2:03 left in the quarter Easley punched it in again on the keeper, and it was 14-7 Ozark.

The Wildcats attempted to answer back, firing off a 50-yard pass and pushing the ball down into the red zone.

Facing fourth-down-and-goal on their own 5, the Wildcats’ attempt to score was stopped, with Ozark taking over on downs while shifting the momentum in the process.

In the second quarter, the Tigers punched the ball in again and at 6:42 to go in the half it was 21-7.

Neosho again tried to answer, but with 5:05 to go in the half, the Wildcats decided to go for it on fourth and 2 in their own territory, and it looked like the gamble had paid off, but the completion was negated on an ineligible man downfield penalty.

The Tigers effectively put the game out of reach on the next series, punching in again from a yard out and the score was 28-7 going into the half.

Opening the second half, the Tigers scored again on a 2-yard run by Jake Meads and a pick-six a few plays later by Garrett Ballard made it 42-7.

With under two minutes to go under a running clock, the Tigers attempted a 31-yard field goal, but missed wide right and the score remained 42-7.

With 20 seconds left in the third, Neosho’s Evan Haskins broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run to make the score 42-14.

In the fourth, Neosho was again driving, but was picked off with three minutes remaining, which essentially ended the game.

UP NEXT

Neosho hosts Willard (o-7) on Friday.

PREP SOFTBALL: Joplin beats Neosho 12-5 in extra innings

NEOSHO, Mo. — For the second time in two games the Joplin Eagles earned an extra-inning win.

On Tuesday, Joplin hit the road and battled with Neosho to a 5-5 score after seven innings. The Eagles rallied for seven runs in the ninth inning to earn a 12-5 Central Ozark Conference win.

Joplin scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to build a 3-0 advantage before Neosho tallied three runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. Joplin plated two runs in the fifth to regain the lead before the Wildcats answered with a two-run sixth to ultimately send the game into extra innings. The Eagles put the stamp on the win after touching home seven times in the ninth to seal the win.

IN THE CIRCLE

After earning the complete-game win over 8 2/3 innings on Monday, Jill McDaniel proved to have earned the Ironman moniker after pitching all nine innings to earn the complete-game win on Tuesday. She allowed five runs on 13 hits, six walks and had six strikeouts.

Chloe Patterson took the loss after allowing seven runs, one earned, on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts in four relief innings. Carleigh Kinnaird took a no-decision after allowing five runs, three earned, on seven hits, four walks and six strikeouts in five innings of work for Neosho.

TURNING POINT

Joplin’s Libby Munn drove home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning with an RBI single through the left side to play Abby Lowery and give the Eagles a 6-5 lead.

After the Eagles added two runs on a Neosho error later in the ninth, Izzy Yust picked up an RBI on a single before Lowery added an RBI double to make the score 12-5.

AT THE PLATE

Lowery had four hits, including three doubles, to go along with one RBI and a run scored to lead Joplin at the dish. Yust had two hits, scored three times and drove in one, while Munn had two hits with one RBI and a run scored. Loum had one hit and three RBI, while Madisyn Tracy hit a solo home run.

Beclynn Garrett had three hits, including a home run and a double, to go along with three RBI and a run scored. Lili Graue, Kaitlyn Killion and MaKaylie Forrest each had two hits. Graue doubled and scored two runs, while Forrest also added a double. 

UP NEXT

Joplin hosts Waynesville on Thursday for Senior Night, while Neosho is at Seneca on Monday.

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Carl Junction wins Dr. Jeffrey Knutzen CJ Classic; Hylton sets Bulldog ace record

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — After a long day of volleyball that started at 8:30 in the morning, the Carl Junction Bulldogs wrapped up the Dr. Jeffrey Knutzen CJ Classic volleyball tournament with a 25-16, 25-21 win in the Gold Bracket championship over Rogers on Saturday.

“We started off a little bit slow this morning, but I don’t think you want to start off hot,” Carl Junction coach Cheryl Sharples said. “You kind of want to build on your day and that is what we did. We continued to get better and by the end of the day, we were playing our best volleyball we could have played today. I don’t think it’s our best volleyball, but the best we could play today.”

History was also made on Saturday, as Carl Junction senior Jessa Hylton etched her name in the record books during CJ’s 25-10, 25-16 win over Neosho in pool play. Hylton had three aces against Hollister in the opening pool play match to tie the Bulldog career record of 135 held by Katelyn Joyner (2008-10). Hylton added an ace in service against the Wildcats to stand alone in the record books. She finished with 12 total aces throughout the tournament and currently sits at 144.

“It is really awesome,” Hylton said about having her name in the CJ record books. “I just feel like my teammates push me every time I serve. I always hear them support me, pushing me to get better. I feel like they’re the ones who allowed me to set this record. I am thankful for that.”

“Jess has always been a great server,” Sharples said. “She is very effective and when she goes after it, it is a hard ball to pass. I am really excited for her to get that record.”

TIDBITS

This was the second straight season the Bulldogs won the CJ Classic. Even more impressive, the Bulldogs didn’t lose a single set in the six matches they won on Saturday.

“I think we have an opportunity to do some really great things this year,” Sharples said of her team. “If we stay healthy and everybody is playing at the level they can play, I think we can compete with anybody.”

“This is our first time going back-to-back, so I am hoping they continue it next year,” Hylton said. “This is a big deal for us and I am very proud of our team. If we can keep continuing to get better, we are going to keep progressing towards big things in the future.”

QUEENS OF THE COURT

Carl Junction advanced to the championship of the Gold Bracket after starting the day with pool play wins over Hollister (25-14, 25-10), Neosho and Pittsburg (25-7, 25-16) before earning a 25-20, 25-12 win over Heritage in the quarterfinals and a 25-19, 25-12 win over Springfield Central in the semifinals.

The Bulldogs played neck and neck with the Mountaineers in the first game of the championship before a three-point service run from Destiny Buerge gave CJ a 13-8 advantage. Hylton added a kill moments later that was followed by an ace from Kylie Scott to push the lead to 16-8. 

The lead improved to 18-10 on a kill from Maggie Brown before Carl Junction used a four-point service run by Hylton that included two aces to build a 24-14 lead. Logan Jones finished off the first game with a kill.

Rogers jumped out in front 6-1 to start the second set before Carl Junction cut the lead to 8-7 on two aces from Hylton and a kill from Buerge. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the second set, 11-10, on an ace from Ellie Lawson.

With the Mountaineers up 17-16, a kill from Buerge, Hylton and Buerge again gave Carl Junction a 19-17 lead they’d never relinquish. Hylton added two more kills in the waning stages, while Scott, Jones and Karissa Chase also added kills on the way to the Bulldogs clinching the title game.

“That was key,” Sharples said about the Bulldogs ability to win the championship in two games. “We need to take control of matches and make sure we don’t get ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in.”

Hylton finished the CJ Classic with 44 kills, 12 aces, 12 digs and five blocks, while Jones added 120 assists, 12 aces, 22 kills, 14 digs and three blocks. Buerge had 47 digs and 25 kills, with Scott adding 21 kills and eight blocks. Olivia Vediz had 45 digs in the libero spot.

 

TIGERS FALL IN THE GOLD SEMIFINALS

Carthage clinched a berth to the Gold Bracket after earning wins over Nevada (25-16, 25-16) and McDonald County (25-6, 25-12) and splitting with Central (25-13, 14-25) in pool play. Taking on Webb City to open bracket play, Carthage earned a straight-set win (26-24, 25-22) to advance to the semifinals against Rogers, where the Tigers fell in three sets to the Mountaineers 17-25, 25-13 and 22-21.

“I thought that we played great,” Carthage coach Bradyn Webb said. “I thought that we competed every single game, and that is really what I ask of them—give 100 percent because you don’t want to finish a game and regret how you played.”

“I think that was a big confidence booster for us,” Webb added about the Tigers’ win over Webb City. “We do need to win a big game in order to get better, and that was a big game for us. Our girls were fired up about it, and we had the mindset of going in that it was not an option to lose. We played like that and it paid off for us.”

Sydnee Dudolski led Carthage with 45 kills, 11 aces and 26 digs to go along with three blocks in the tournament. Mia Camarillo added 31 kills, two digs and two sets, while Sophie Shannon had 20 kills and six blocks. Raven Probert finished with 141 assists and 22 digs and eight aces, with Olivia Bourgault added 41 digs and seven assists at the libero spot.

 

WEBB CITY AND JOPLIN FALL IN QUARTERFINALS

After qualifying for the Gold Bracket, Webb City and Joplin both fell in the tournament quarterfinals.

Webb City earned wins over Aurora (25-23, 25-13), Carl Junction Black (25-17, 25-15) and Heritage (25-19, 25-15) in pool play before squaring off against Carthage in the opening round of bracket play. The Tigers walked away with a win in two sets to end the Cardinals’ tournament appearance.

“We played well a lot of times in the morning,” Webb City coach Rhonda Lawrence said. “It took us a while to get started, but then we got going in pool play. We just went out (against Carthage) and tried to play with them. When you play not to lose, you’re going to lose. They know that, but we didn’t have the energy. That is on us and this is something we will have to work on.”

Kate Brownfield led Webb City with 31 kills, 16 digs, five aces and a block, while Kenzie Storm added 26 kills, 20 digs and five blocks. Kyah Sanborn had 75 assists and 20 digs, with five aces. Sophia Crane had 40 digs.

“I thought Kate Brownfield made a lot of plays consistently,” Lawrence said. “Defensively and offensively, she was our most go-to player. … She had to step up, and her serve receive looked better than it normally does. She is carving her own little path.”

Joplin finished pool play with a win over Hillcrest (25-17, 25-19) before splitting with Rogers (23-25, 25-11) and West Plains (25-23, 14-25). The Eagles matched up against Central in the quarterfinals, with the Bulldogs earning a 25-19, 25-13 victory.

“We are growing a little bit every time we play,” Joplin coach Desiree Felker said. “Central is a good team and they do some things very well. I wish things could have gone the other way, but we played hard. We are slowly putting things together. I keep challenging them every day to get better, and I think we are.”

Allie Lawrence led Joplin with 20 kills, 19 digs and a block, while Abby Edwards and Angelina Schramm each added 15 kills. Edwards finished with 19 digs, while Schramm closed with 10 aces, two blocks and 17 digs. Bailey Owens added 12 kills and five blocks. Paisley Parker had 54 digs to Joplin. Abby Hembree had 36 assists and nine digs, with Kaya Cooper adding 28 assists and 12 digs.

 

NEOSHO TAKES SECOND IN BRONZE BRACKET; MCDONALD COUNTY FALLS IN SEMIFINALS

Neosho split with Pittsburg (25-19, 24-26) and Hollister (20-25, 25-16) and lost to Carl Junction 25-10, 25-16) and played in the Bronze Bracket. The Wildcats opened with a 25-18, 18-25 and 25-21 win over McDonald County in the quarterfinals before falling to Aurora in the Bronze finals 25-18, 24-26 and 25-17.

The Mustangs lost to Central (25-12, 25-16) and Carthage (25-6, 25-12) before earning a 25-9, 27-26 win over Nevada in pool play

 

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

MVP; Jessa Hylton, Carl Junction

Logan Jones, Carl Junction

Destiny Buerge, Carl Junction

Kylie Scott, Carl Junction

Ryley Martin, Rogers

Madison Rhea, Rogers

Sydnee Dudolski, Carthage

Olivia Bourgault, Carthage

Coco Buschhorn, Central

Mili Sylvester, Central

Angelina Schramm, Joplin

Emily Young, Hollister

Malia Fossee, Heritage

Ashton Judd, West Plains

Faith McGowin, Pittsburg

PREP SOFTBALL: Carthage rallies late for win over Neosho

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Neosho took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth before Carthage crossed home six times on the way to a 7-2 win in Central Ozark Conference action on Tuesday.

Jensyn Elder earned the win in the circle after allowing two unearned runs on three hits, 11 strikeouts and a walk in seven complete innings.

Chloe Patterson took the loss after allowing seven runs, one earned, on eight hits, two walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Neosho (11-6, 2-3 COC) took the initial lead in the top of the first when Abbie Carpenter drove in a run with a groundout before Carthage (11-11, 3-2 COC) tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Aspen Willis.

Carpenter reached on a bunt that turned into a Tigers’ error, allowing Lili Graue to score for a 2-1 Wildcats’ lead.

The bats came alive in the bottom half of the inning for Carthage. The Tigers tied the game at 2s on a Neosho error before Mary Grace Richmond singled home a run on a liner to right field to give the Tigers a 3-2 advantage. Presley Probert added a bases-loaded double later in the inning to add three insurance runs before Natalie Rodriguez capped the scoring with an RBI single up the middle to push the lead to 7-2.

Richmond and Rodriguez each had two hits to lead the Tigers. Richmond had an RBI and scored a run, while Rodriguez also drove in a run. Probert had a team-high three RBI.

Graue led Neosho with a hit and two runs scored, while McKaylie Forrest doubled.

Carthage is at Willard on Thursday, while Neosho is at Branson on Thursday.

PREP TENNIS: Carthage downs Neosho

NEOSHO, Mo. — Carthage earned an 8-1 win over Neosho on Tuesday to move to 2-4 on the season.

In No. 1 singles play, Carthage’s Kianna Yates earned an 8-0 win over Claudia Martensen, while Daniela Marquez defeated Jasmine Martinez 8-1 in No. 2 singles.

Neosho’s Lydnsey Doke earned a forfeit win over Anayansi Lopez-Rodas, while Carthage’s Katie Braton won 8-0 over Alex Olsbo. Beverly Garcia-Hernandez earned an 8-1 win over Georgia Housh. Lynnd Guerra finished with a 8-2 win over Keely Keeton. 

In doubles action, Yates and Marquez defeated Martensen and Doke 8-0, while Lopez-Rodas and Barton earned an 8-0 win over Martinez and Olsbo. Garcia-Hernandez and Guerra defeated Housh and Keeton 8-6.

PREP SOFTBALL: Patterson’s perfect game leads Neosho past Carl Junction

NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho starter Chloe Patterson will always remember her start against Carl Junction after tossing a four-inning perfect game to help lead the Wildcats to a 15-0 win over Carl Junction on Tuesday.

Patterson didn’t allow a base runner all game and struck out six over four innings to earn the perfect-game victory.

Hannah Cole took the loss for Carl Junction after allowing 15 runs, four earned, on 10 hits, two walks and a strikeout in 3 1/3 innings.

Neosho wasted little time getting the lead as the Wildcats opened with a five-run first inning. NHS added seven runs in the second and three more in the fourth to seal the win via run rule.

Abbie Carpenter led Neosho with four hits, including two doubles, as well as three RBI and two runs scored. Beclynn Garrett had a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. Maddie Carpenter added two hits, scored twice and drove in one.

Neosho hosts Ozark on Thursday.