By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Neosho’s fourth-quarter comeback attempt fell short as Vashon outlasted the Wildcats 61-57 Friday night in the consolation semifinals of the Kaminsky Classic at Young Gymnasium.
Neosho cut a 17-point Vashon lead to six points at 56-50 on a layup by Darrian Guillory with 1 minute, 52 seconds remaining.
Vashon then turned to its game-situation strategies as Neosho made five of 10 free throws in the last 1:14.
“Did we execute? Yes. Did we turn the ball over? Yes,” said Vashon head coach DeAndre Davis. “This is what you want to get ironed out by March. You try to come away from here better than when you came.”
Neosho led nearly all of the first half even though the Wildcats had just one field goal in the first quarter, a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Caden Hendricks. The Wildcats scored five quick points late in the half on a layup and a 3-pointer by Hendricks, who led the Wildcats with 19 points, and went into halftime with a 26-21 lead.
“I can speak for both teams coming off 30-point defeats,” Davis said. “It was a little hesitant on both teams.”
Jefferson City defeated Vashon 66-38 in the first round, while Neosho fell to Webster Groves 71-17.
Vashon’s pressing defense created turnovers that led to layups as the Wolverines, led by Derrick Mitchell, outscored Neosho 25-3 in the third quarter. Mitchell finished with 19 points had teammate Damien Taylor scored 12 points.
Neosho head coach Jason Horn attributed the surge to defensive changes Vashon made at halftime.
“They made a good adjustment. They switched to a zone and slowed us down,” Horn said. “That took a lot of momentum from us.”
Neosho answered by outscoring Vashon 10-2 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, including seven points by Hendricks, and reduced Vashon’s lead to 48-39.
“They played hard. They had a little more confidence in themselves,” Horn said. “That’s the first time we’ve really fought back when we faced adversity. They played their hearts out. They worked hard.”
From there, the Wolverines were without starting guard Brandon Jones, a sophomore who fouled out with 5:52 remaining.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 57-53 on an offensive rebound and basket by Andy Lett with 1:11 remaining but could come no closer than four points the rest of the way. Lett scored 16 points, including 11 of 12 free throws.
“They ran their plays throughout. I knew they would,” Davis said. “That’s a fiesty group. We didn’t beat them. We outlasted them.”
WICHITA WORD OF LIFE 72, WILLIAM CHRISMAN 65
A. J. Maloney scored 21 points as Word of Life advanced to the fifth-place game at 12:30 p.m. today, where the Fire will face Vashon.
Maloney, a 5-foot-7 senior, scored 12 of his points in the second half. The Fire led 38-32 at halftime.
Alex Ball of William Chrisman scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. Teammate Chris Horn scored 13 points.
William Chrisman will play Neosho for seventh place at 11 a.m. today.