By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Webb City and Nixa enter the 16th annual Joplin Freeman/Lady Eagle Classic on Thursday with 3-0 prep basketball records.
They tangled in the final last season with Nixa logging a 40-36 victory.
But their clash this year in the tournament — if it happens — will be in the semifinals in Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University.
Nixa and Webb City are seeded first and fourth, respectively.
Thursday’s opening schedule is Nixa vs. Blue Valley West (Kan.) at 4 p.m., Webb City vs. Harrison (Ark.) at 5:30, second-seeded Marshfield vs. Joplin at 7 and Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber vs. Neosho at 8:30.
Times are identical for the Friday session. Saturday’s schedule, however, tips off at 1 p.m. with the seventh-place game.
Webb City, avenging last season’s buzzer-beating loss in the final of the Carl Junction Classic, beat Carthage 51-43 last Saturday to reach 3-0.
Nixa made it 3-0 by stifling visiting Mount Vernon 51-19 on Monday night.
The Eagles, Webb City coach Brad Shorter admitted, opened his eyes from afar — he can scout them on Thursday — with their performance against Mount Vernon.
Jim Middleton’s charges allowed one point in the second half. They sank 10 treys in the game with nine in the first half.
“We’ve got a lot of players who are skilled offensively,” Middleton told Chris Basnett in the Springfield News-Leader. “What we’re trying to do is think defense. And they’re showing signs.”
Jeana Raper, a senior guard, sank five 3s in scoring 19 points for the Eagles.
Said the Cardinals’ Shorter: “I like what we’re doing. I’m happy with the defense — mostly man-to-man and some matchup zone — but we have a long way to go. We need to pass the ball around a little better.”
Probable Webb City starters in the classic — all juniors — are 5-foot-7 Mikaela Burgess, 6-0 Desirea Buerge, 5-8 Kaitlin Beason, 5-7 Megan Heman and 6-2 Casey Heger.
Scoring averages include 16 for Burgess, 14.7 for Beason, 11.3 for Heger, 11 for Buerge and 4.7 for Heman.
Leading rebounders are Buerge 8.7, Heger 6.3 and Beason 5.7. Beason is shooting 53 percent from the field and Burgess 79 from the foul line.