By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The all-Arkansas final in the 16th annual Joplin Freeman/Lady Classic was won by Springdale Har-Ber on Saturday night at Missouri Southern State University.
The third-seeded Wildcats prevailed 48-39 against the fifth-seeded Goblins after building a 20-9 lead after one quarter and fending off several spirited rallies.
Blue Valley West of Overland Park (Kan.) beat Marshfield 43-34 for third place.
Defending champion Nixa beat Neosho 56-8 for fifth place and Webb City defeated Joplin 56-20 for seventh place and to open the session in Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
Har-Ber and Harrison each had two players on the all-tournament team.
Har-Ber was represented by 5-foot-6 senior Caylee Wright (coach Sandy Wright’s daughter) and 5-4 junior Samantha Weber. Harrison selections: 5-9 junior Cara Barrett and 5-9 sophomore Taylor Tate.
Completing the eight-player elite: Blue Valley West’s 5-8 senior Jordan Wright, Marshfield’s 5-6 junior Makenna Smith, Nixa’s 5-7 senior Jeana Raper and Webb City’s 5-6 junior Mikaela Burgess.
Records after the tourney: Har-Ber 6-2, Harrison 4-4, Blue Valley West 2-1, Marshfield 2-4, Nixa 5-1, Neosho 2-2, Webb City 4-2, Joplin 1-4.
Har-Ber vs. Harrison
The Class 7A Wildcats and Class 5A Goblins — some 1 1/2 hours apart — rarely meet on the basketball floor.
The reason perhaps is unusual and understandable.
“We only play when we come to the Joplin tournament,” Harrison coach Doug Young said with a grin. “I think it had been about five years since our last game.”
Said Coach Wright: “Coach Young and his assistant Doug Cox and I have been friends for a long time. Coach Young and I attended North Arkansas (at Harrison) for a year together. And we were friends even before that. But I don’t like playing friends.
“I told him before the game, win or lose, I’d still be his friend,” a grinning Wright said.
Caylee Wright and 5-10 sophomore Bailey Schalk each scored 14 points for Har-Ber. Weber added five assists and 5-10 senior Tayleah Neal added eight points and as many rebounds.
Harrison received 19 points from Barrett.
Said Young: “Har-Ber has size, depth and speed. Our girls fought hard. They really battled. They really competed and showed character (with those comebacks). I’m very proud of them.”
Said Coach Wright: “The second quarter wasn’t pretty (the Goblins’ 15-8 advantage boosted them back into the game). But we weathered it.
“We may have become a little complacent after that first quarter and, for sure, we wound up having too many turnovers,” Wright said. “I thought our guards played well.”
Harrison trailed only 37-33 entering the fourth quarter, But a basket by Wright, two free throws by Schalk, a layup by Neal and two free throws by Wright established a 10-point lead at 45-35 with about a minute left.
BV West vs. Marshfield
Frank Lapointe, the Jaguars’ coach, was elated with their effort after a No. 8 seeding.
“This tournament was great for us,” Lapointe said. “It’s a good start. We have to keep improving.”
Lapointe said the 6A team (a member of the EKL) finished 2-19 last season.
“We’re the smallest school in the largest class,” he said. “We showed resiliency and toughness down the stretch in this game.”
Marshfield, which was outscored 9-0 in the second quarter, trailed 17-9 at the half.
Said Marshfield coach Shelly Jones: “We didn’t play well. We have to become more consistent on offense. I also don’t think we were comfortable with our positions (on the floor).”
Five players finished with six or more points for balanced Blue Valley West. Wright, a transfer from Blue Valley North, and 6-0 freshman Emily Engelken each tallied nine.
Samantha French, a 6-1 sophomore, and 5-8 senior Maddie McCall each had 10 points for Marshfield.
Nixa vs. Neosho
The Eagles, ranked fifth in Class 5 by coaches, led the meeting of Central Ozark Conference Large Division members 27-4 at the half after a first-quarter 10-0 advantage.
Raper, who sank three treys, tallied 16 for the winner and Alex Sorenson, a 6-1 junior, added 10 off the bench.
Raper led the way in the first half for the Eagles with 13 points.
Webb City vs. Joplin
The Cardinals finished the first quarter on a 21-0 run for a 24-5 lead and led by 45-14 at the half.
“We played well and we played with intensity,” Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. “We showed we had the capability of using different combinations.”
Said Joplin coach Dustin Larsen: “I thought we had a little more energy. But we have to be mentally tougher when we get fatigued. We also have to do a better job with the little things.”
The Cardinals, who shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half, received 20 points from 6-0 sophomore Desirea Buerge, 17 from Burgess and 12 from 6-2 junior Casey Heger.
Bailey Taylor, a 5-9 sophomore, tallied 10 for Joplin.
Webb City visits the Eagles at 5 p.m. on Tuesday — starting with the freshman contest — in Young Gymnasium.