By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
NEOSHO, Mo. —
Coming off two consecutive losses, the Webb City Cardinals ended their stay at the Neosho Holiday Classic with a much-needed victory.
But it didn’t come easy.
The Cardinals nearly squandered a 14-point fourth quarter lead, then held on for a 62-54 win over the Carthage Tigers on Saturday at Neosho Middle School as Webb City senior Jalen Vaden made 8 of 8 free throws in the final minute.
Webb City (7-3) finished the tournament in seventh place with a 2-2 record. Carthage (3-9) was 0-4, despite playing some close games.
Sunrise Christian was playing St. Louis Christian in the championship game Saturday night, but the game wasn’t finished as of press-time. Bentonville beat Memphis Sheffield 62-48 in the third-place game at Neosho High School.
The Cardinals were coming off a 52-30 loss to St. Joseph Lafayette on Friday and 68-64 to Memphis Sheffield on Thursday.
“We had two rough games in the tournament, so we had to come and bounce back against Carthage,” Vaden said. “It’s a pretty big rivalry, so you don’t want to lose to your rival. It was a big, big game for us.”
Webb City led 48-34 entering the fourth quarter, but Carthage sophomore post Jaryd Coss scored eight points to spark a 14-6 run over the next seven minutes. Carthage’s Anthony Turk capped the run with a 3-pointer to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 54-50 with one minute remaining.
But that’s when Vaden stepped up at the line, making all eight attempts to seal the victory.
“That’s really clutch,” Webb City coach Landon Cornish said. “He stepped in and was composed. He came out and got the ball. He wasn’t hiding from it and stepped in and hit his free throws.”
Vaden led the Cardinals with 18 points. Kohl Slaughter scored 17, including nine in the third quarter that helped Webb City extend its lead into double digits.
Coss led the Tigers with 18 points, while Dawson Allmoslecher and Turk scored 13 and 12, respectively.
Carthage’s Nathan Reid, who averaged 18.3 points through the first three games of the tournament, was limited to seven points that included only one field goal.
“We wanted to get it out of his hands,” Cornish said. “So whenever he caught it, we wanted to run at him and try to make him give it up. He’s a very good player, so we wanted to get it out of his hands as much as possible.”
Webb City will travel to face McDonald County on Thursday.
The Tigers will be at Nevada on Thursday. Carthage coach Steve Ray expects his players to keep battling after being competitive in all four games of the tournament.
“We have not caught a lot of breaks in terms of our schedule with the level of teams we’ve played, but the guys have fought everyone,” Ray said. “I was not surprised at all that they made the run (against Webb City). I was very proud.”
In other consolation boys games Saturday, Pierce City beat Neosho 48-38, Morrilton defeated McDonald County 42-34, West Memphis toppled Van Buren 46-34 and Lafayette beat KC Ruskin 62-47.