By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Samantha Stout’s court-length drive to the basket with 3:22 remaining gave Joplin the lead for good in a 47-45 victory against Lebanon in an Ozark Conference game Thursday night at Young Gymnasium.
Stout, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, scored 13 points, sank both of her 3-point attempts and was 5-for-6 at the free-throw line.
“That’s what we’ve been working toward,” said Joplin head coach Dustin Larsen after the Eagles’ first conference victory in three games. “Our kids stepped up and did a real nice job tonight.”
The Eagles led most of the second half, but two free throws by Lebanon’s Kelsey Pemberton with 3:29 to go gave Lebanon a 41-40 lead.
After Joplin regained the lead on Stout’s driving layup, sophomore guard Bailey Taylor made one of two free throws, then put Joplin ahead 45-41 on a drive to the basket with 1:56 to go.
“I was thinking about attacking the basket, getting offensive rebounds and getting into transition,” said Taylor, a 5-9 sophomore who led Joplin with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“It feels really nice to get this win. We really needed it,” she said. “It gave some of our girls some confidence about playing. We’re not very deep on the bench.”
Two Joplin players — sophomore Shantel Beck and junior Jacqueline Lieurance — were out of the lineup because of injuries. Freshmen Nichole Campbell, Megan Belnap and Megan Ritter played during key stretches of the second half.
“Early in the first half, we were fatigued a little bit, but we got the stop we needed or the bucket we needed,” Larsen said. “It’s always good to get a conference win at home.”
Joplin jumped to an 11-2 first-quarter lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Kelsey Johnson, Taylor and Stout, and two free throws by Danielle Hollingshead.
Lebanon’s first lead, 15-13, came on a 3-point play by senior forward Emma Carter three minutes into the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Taylor put Joplin back on top, and the Eagles led 25-23 at halftime.
Joplin led by seven points twice in the second half. The Eagles led 32-25 after a 3-pointer by Stout and a free throw by Taylor midway through the third quarter.
Six consecutive points by Lebanon pulled it within 33-32 late in the third quarter, and Taylor picked up her fourth foul with 1:34 left in the period.
Lebanon had three field goals in the fourth quarter. Two came seven seconds apart on baskets by Pemberton and Ashton Light that brought Lebanon within 46-45 with 31 seconds left. A last-second 3-point attempt by Lebanon fell short.