By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
Waynesville looked very much like a team in the midst of a run on Friday night.
The Tigers used their height, athleticism and accurate outside shooting to roll past the Joplin Eagles 52-28 in an Ozark Conference tussle at Missouri Southern’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
“They’re an athletic ball team, no doubt,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “I’m disappointed in the fact that we could have made a really respectable ball game out of it. It’s disappointing in front of a home crowd.”
Waynesville — which won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve to 12-8 (3-2 Ozark) — had three players in double figures, including both of its 6-foot-7 forwards.
Senior Kellieon Williams, who missed the first 10 games as the Tigers got off to a 5-5 start, scored a game-high 13 points while fellow 6-7 forward Juwan Morgan, a sophomore, scored 10 points and blocked three shots, all in the first half.
“We didn’t defend like we needed to in the first half,” Jeff Williams said. “I was disappointed in our high post. When they got the ball to the high post, they were able to get the ball inside too easy, and it made scoring too easy for them.”
Waynesville’s Ethan Howser hit four of his five 3-pointers and scored 12 points.
“When he steps into shots and gets into a rhythm he’s pretty good,” Waynesville coach Chris Pilz said. “When he’s shooting the ball like that, it really opens up the inside. If we can play inside-out like that, I think we have a chance to play for a while this winter and spring.”
Back-to-back Howser treys sparked Waynesville’s 13-0 second-quarter run and another trey send the Tigers into halftime with a 30-10 lead.
Joplin (12-7, 2-3), which played most of the first half without foul-plagued 6-4 center Adam St. Peter, made a run to start the second half.
The Eagles hit three straight 3-pointers — two by Dillon McVay and one from Charlie Brown —for a 9-0 run that cut the deficit to 30-19 just 1:30 into the third quarter.
But Waynesville scored 11 of the quarter’s final 15 points to pull away again.
“Having Adam on the bench kind of took away from our offensive strategy a little bit,” Williams said. “We had to put together something at halftime that I thought was productive. We got it down to 11, but then they get about three rebounds in one possession.
“It was like we just stopped again. It was too much work for us.”
Brown led Joplin with 12 points, but he was the only Eagle in double digits. McVay added six and five more Eagles scored two points apiece.
“Going in, we’re trying to attack their zone,” Williams said. “They played more zone and we’re pretty good against man defense. They were trapping and real aggressive, it wasn’t a sit-back zone. It makes you make plays ... and we have to have somebody besides Charlie do that for us.”