By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Carl Junction was making a comeback. The Bulldogs capped an 8-2 run with sophomore Brenlee McPherson’s inside bucket to cut Webb City’s lead to six points in the closing seconds of the first half.
Then suddenly, the momentum turned back to the Cardinals.
Webb City junior guard Mikaela Burgess grabbed a loose ball at midcourt and hurled the ball toward the basket as she was fouled just before the buzzer sounded. Burgess followed by making all three free throws and extending the Cardinal lead to nine points at the half.
The Cardinals used the momentum to beat the Carl Junction girls 67-40 on Friday night in the Mercy Sportscare CJ Classic. The win advances Webb City to the championship game at 3 p.m. today against Carthage. Carl Junction will play in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m. against Nevada.
“I thought we were going into the locker room six points down and on fire,” Carl Junction coach Tiffany Dirks said. “Instead, we come in nine points down with our heads down. And in the second half, they just lit it up.”
Burgess, who scored 19 points, said the play helped give her team confidence going into the first half.
“It was great to go from a six-point lead to a nine-point lead,” she said. “Making that jump and going into halftime with the bigger lead is comforting.”
Taking the 29-20 lead into halftime, the Cardinals didn’t look back in the second half as they outscored the Bulldogs 19-6 in the third quarter.
“After halftime, I think we came back a lot stronger,” Burgess said. “We were playing as a team and had much better ball movement.”
Webb City junior Kaitlin Beason opened the second half on fire, hitting two inside buckets and a 3-pointer early in the third quarter to extend the Cardinals lead to 38-24 at the 4:50 mark. Beason scored 18 of her game-high 22-points in the second half.
“Kaitlin is capable of doing that,” Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. “When she’s open and we get her the basketball, she will knock it down.”
Webb City (2-0) also received strong contributions from Desirea Buerge, Asia Bemo and Casey Heger, who scored 10, 8 and 8 points, respectively.
“Our defense let down,” Dirks said. “We couldn’t find a consistent five that would step up and play defense for us tonight. We had some great effort from a lot of kids, but we didn’t have five people at one time committing to play defense. Webb City is very good, so if we don’t have five people doing it then we won’t win.”
Carl Junction (1-1) was led by freshman Maria Chism with 12 points. McPherson added eight, while Olivia Uhrich had six points.
In the late game Friday, Carthage topped Nevada 67-64. Vanessa Pawlak led the Tigers with 22 points, while Chloe Shepherd scored 17.
Nevada was led by 26 points from Morgan McNeeley.