By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The opening seconds gave a pretty good indication of how the game would go.
Joplin’s Bailey Taylor stole the ball on Monett’s first possesion, then turned it into a three-point play as she was fouled while making a layup. Taylor, who led all scorers with 17, recorded Joplin’s first eight points of the game in a 54-19 win over the Monett Cubs on Monday night at Missouri Southern State University’s Young Gym.
Taylor scored 10 points in the first quarter to help the Eagles take a 14-2 lead.
“She’s one of our captains,” Joplin coach Dustin Larsen said of Taylor. “She’s a leader. She’s only a sophomore, but our sophomores have to be upperclassmen for us. She did a good job getting us into things we need to get into to. She gave us a good spark, but the whole group is really doing a good job of continuing to improve night in and night out.”
The Eagles earned the win with two varsity players out. Junior guard Jacqueline Lieurance missed the game with an ankle injury, and junior guard Marrisa Queen was sick.
“It was a good night,” Larsen said. “We were down a couple kids and people stepped up. We’re still in a learning process and getting comfortable with our system. We’re still learning how we need to play every night and every possession, but it was a good night.”
Taylor led the way in the first quarter, but several more Joplin players started to get involved in the second quarter. Junior post Danielle Hollingshed, who registered 13 points and 13 rebounds, scored nine in the second quarter. Kelsey Johnson and Shantel Beck added 3-pointers in the quarter as the Eagles began to execute their inside-outside game.
“I feel like we played very good for this to be our second game,” Taylor said. “We’re really coming together as a team, and this game made us stronger.”
Joplin (1-1) limited Monett to 10.3 percent (3 of 29) shooting from the field in the first half as it took a 35-8 lead into the locker room.
Monett shot only 17.8 percent (8 of 45) for the game and committed 17 turnovers. The Eagles were 45.7 percent (21 of 46) from the field.
The Cubs were never able to get into a groove offensively and were led by three players — Faith Schmidt, Brooke McLean and Jessica Harper — with four points each.
Joplin’s Samantha Stout contributed 10 points.
The Eagles will play Marshfield at 7 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the Joplin Tournament.
“This is a good win for us to go into the tournament,” Taylor said. “It’s a good start.”