By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The Webster Groves Statesmen opened their tournament championship defense by defeating the Neosho Wildcats 71-17 on Thursday night in the first round of the Kaminsky Classic at Missouri Southern’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
Webster Groves (6-4) opened the game with a 12-0 run and led 23-3 at the end of the first quarter and 41-5 at halftime.
“Neosho’s got a good coach,” Webster Groves coach Jay Blossom said. “They’re just a little undermanned right now. They’re young.”
Four freshmen receive extensive minutes for the Wildcats.
Neosho (0-13) didn’t score until Andy Lett hit a 3-pointer with four minutes left in the first quarter. The Wildcats didn’t score again until Darrian Guillory made an inside basket with 1:49 left in the second quarter.
The Statesmen won the tournament last year and six out of the seven times they have been in the Kaminsky.
Alex Floresca led Webster Groves with 20 points, while Michael Gulve scored 14.
Lett and Caden Hendricks scored six points each for Neosho. Twelve of Neosho’s 17 points came off their 3-pointers.
Webster Groves advances to the semifinals and will face Jefferson City at 8:30 p.m. today. Neosho falls to the consolation bracket and will play Vashon at 5:30.
FRANCIS HOWELL 59, WICHITA WORD OF LIFE 52
The Francis Howell Vikings earned their first win of the season by beating the Wichita Word of Life Fire.
Francis Howell (1-8) led by as many as nine in the first half but surrendered the lead when Word of Life senior post Donashae Henderson hit a free throw to give the Fire a 41-40 advantage with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
World of Life (4-4) grew the lead to 50-44 with 6:43 remaining in the game.
But the Vikings outscored the Fire 15-2 from that point on. The Fire went scoreless in the final two minutes with a pair of turnovers and a missed 3-pointer.
Nic Perkins scored nine of his 12 in the fourth quarter and four of the Vikings’ final seven. Sam Hefner also scored 12 for Francis Howell. Perkins added 12 rebounds.
Henderson led Word of Life with a game-high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Jefferson City 66, Vashon 38
Jefferson City senior forward Scott Stegeman scored 26 points, and the Jays cruised past the Vashon Wolverines.
The 6-foot-5 Stegeman scored 18 of his 26 points over the second and third quarters as the Jays built a 51-27 lead heading into the final period.
Derrick Mitchell led Vashon with 12 points.
Jefferson City improved to 7-6 and Vashon dropped to 6-7 on the season.