By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Carthage and Nevada wound up even in four games this prep girls basketball season.
“Absolutely, this is the game you want to win,” Carthage coach Jim Moore said with a smile on Thursday night.
Third-seeded Carthage knocked off No. 2 Nevada 49-32 after No. 1 Webb City hurdled fourth-seeded Carl Junction 83-65 in semifinals of the MSHSAA Class 4 District 12 Tournament.
Carthage scored 35 points in the second half in the clash of Tigers. Webb City pulled away in the final quarter in a matchup of aggressive, relentless teams.
Carthage (18-10) will challenge Webb City (21-5) for the championship at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Carl Junction and Nevada finished 15-11 and 14-11, respectively, with considerable young talent returning.
Webb City vs. Carl Junction
It wasn’t that easy for the Cardinals. Carl Junction twice trailed by just six points before Webb City closed out the game with a 20-8 surge.
“We beat a good ballclub,” Cardinal coach Brad Shorter said. “They’re athletic, long. They do some things very well.
“We didn’t communicate very well as a team in the first half,” Shorter said. “We were improved in the second half.
“It doesn’t matter how you look winning,” Shorter said. “You just need to win.”
Webb City beat the Bulldogs for the third time in as many outings.
Said Carl Junction coach Tiffany Dirks: “They capitalized on our errors more so than we did. But I think they had to earn the win.
“Webb City is such a phenomenal program and well-coached,” Dirks said.
“We improved so much during the season,” Dirks said. “I’m so proud of the team.”
The Cardinals received 29 points from Mikaela Burgess, 24 from Desirea Buerge and 12 from Casey Heger. Burgess and Buerge combined for 19 points in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs got 19 points from Bryce Boyd and 17 from Brenlee McPherson.
Carthage vs. Nevada
Carthage led by only 27-23 late in the third quarter before heroics started tipping the scales in its favor.
Chloe Shepherd sailed in for a layup — and was fouled — with 1.9 seconds left for a six-point advantage.
Shepherd missed the charity but freshman teammate Maya Williams grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the follow. She hit the free throws to make it 31-23 entering the fourth quarter.
“Maya really is starting to come around,” Moore said of the 5-foot-9 Williams.
Said Nevada coach Brent Bartlett: “We were rusty. That’s from playing two games in 16 days (partially because of the weather). But Carthage certainly did a good job.”
Added Moore: “I’m sure the layoff had something to do with it. But I do believe we’re playing our best ball of the season. Our defense was as good as we’ve played all season.”
Carthage was led in scoring by Vanessa Pawlak (15), Williams (11) and Shepherd (10). Tori Dahmer tallied 11 and Rilie Good eight for Nevada.
Williams had five points in the final quarter. Pawlak, Shepherd and Leigh Ann Craig each had four.