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