The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 12, 2011

Late errors cost Eagles

With the game on the line, Brodie Wingert tossed his Kickapoo Chiefs team on his back and led them to a 71-67 Ozark Conference victory over Joplin on Friday in Kaminsky Gymnasium.

The game went down to the final possession.

A 3-pointer by Dayton Whitehead pulled the Eagles within 69-67 with eight seconds left. Needing to foul on the inbounds, the Eagles couldn’t get their hands on anyone and Ryan Rippee scored for the Chiefs as time expired.

“We had some crucial (mistakes) in that last minute,” Eagles coach Jeff Williams said. “We had a great chance to win the ball game tonight. It comes down to mental execution.”

After trailing by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the Eagles (8-13 overall, 1-3 Ozark Conference) pushed ahead 53-50 opening the fourth. That’s when Wingert, who had 11 points in the first half, but none in the third period due to foul trouble, found his touch.

With three treys and a jumper in the fourth, his only 3-point makes in the game, Wingert racked up 11 points in the period, giving him 22 total. His final dagger made it 63-57 Chiefs with 3:35 left.

“(Wingert) came back in from foul trouble and hit some big shots,” Williams said. “He hit some big shots for them, and if those babies don’t go down the Joplin Eagles come out with a win tonight.”

Despite his heroics, Wingert didn’t possess the hottest hand in the second half, or even the fourth period for that matter. That distinguation belonged to Whitehead, who guided the Eagles with 18 second-half points, including 12 in the fourth. He finished with 21 total.

His trey to open the fourth period gave the Eagles a 51-50 edge. Another rainmaker while the Chiefs led midway through the fourth closed the deficit to 64-62.

With the Chiefs playing a stingy man defense, Williams also noted the play of freshman point guard Charlie Brown as another bright spot for the Eagles. Brown finished with 14 points. Sam Williams and Adam St. Peter also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 points each, respectively.

Said Williams: “We’re playing better. We’re trying to gear up right now so we can finish strong going into the district.

“I’m proud of our guys, because that’s a difference for us in the last two weeks ... we’re fighting back. We’re starting to make progress in doing what we think we need to do which is holding (opponents) to one shot. We did much better at that tonight.”

Joplin entertains Waynesville at 6 p.m. tonight.

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