By Rod Shetler
Special to The Globe
WILLARD, Mo. —
A long road trip, a pending Christmas break, a week’s worth of finals — whatever the reason Carl Junction Bulldogs’ coach Kyle Williams hopes his team can “recharge’’ during the upcoming days off.
The Bulldogs (5-3) saw a 20-16 halftime deficit turn into a 49-37 loss at Willard in a game that saw the Bulldogs struggle to find an offensive rhythm.
“We’re into Christmas break now, and this wasn’t a great atmosphere tonight,’’ said Williams. “It was kind of dull. Not a lot of energy. I felt like we did a good job with our zone defense, in that we didn’t allow them to speed up the tempo, but their length really hurt us. And we missed a lot of free throws.’’
The Bulldogs were 4-for-12 at the free-throw line, and also turned the ball over 25 times, preventing their offense from gaining consistency.
“You miss a lot of free throws and turn the ball over that much, you’re going to lose a lot of ball games,’’ said Williams.
The Tigers (6-3) were back and forth with Carl Junction in the early going and went into halftime with a 20-16 lead. Neither team was able to find a consistent outside scoring threat as the teams combined to go 0-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half.
Carl Junction pulled to within three points, 28-25, with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter after a short jumper by Andrew Wilson, but that would be the Bulldogs’ final points until a driving layup by Matt Magee with 5:11 left to play. Willard put up a 10-0 scoring run during the nearly five-minute scoring drought and the Bulldogs could not cut the gap.
Magee led the Bulldogs with 13 points, and leading scorer Travis Vogt was held to 10 points.
“For six days we will have no basketball,’’ said Williams. “You look at our record and say 5-3 is not that bad, but I hope we start executing better after a break. We maybe need to recharge our batteries, but I didn’t see a lot of fire in our eyes tonight.’’
Willard was led by 6-4 junior Chris Kendrix’s 16 points and seven rebounds. The third-seeded Tigers will play Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament at Missouri State.