By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Joplin stayed within range of Hillcrest for three quarters, but in the end the Hornets outran the Eagles 62-38 in a girls Ozark Conference game Monday night at Young Gymnasium.
Brittany Fisher scored 13 points in the first nine minutes as Hillcrest overcame an early 5-4 Joplin lead. Joplin trailed 32-21 early in the third quarter and 44-31 going into the fourth quarter.
“We talked a lot, we moved our feet, we looked for the open pass and we were unselfish with the ball,” said Fisher, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who had 20 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
Bailey Taylor led Joplin with 12 points, including two 3-pointers in the first half, and Kelsey Johnson and Danielle Hollingsworth each scored 10 points. Hollingshead led the Eagles with seven rebounds.
Fisher’s 3-pointer gave Hillcrest a 19-8 lead with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the first quarter. From there, the two teams traded baskets until Taylor’s second 3-pointer of the half pulled Joplin to within 27-15 just before halftime.
Hillcrest (12-9 overall, 4-2 in the conference) outrebounded the Eagles 37-27, including four offensive rebounds apiece by Fisher and Kristin Todd.
“The big focus was rebounding,” said Hillcrest head coach Jeni Hopkins. “We wanted to switch up defensively and crash the boards. Everybody individually had a goal for rebounds, and having something to concentrate on was a key. Rebounding was huge.”
Hillcrest’s big run came in the fourth quarter when the Hornets allowed only a 3-pointer by Johnson during a 6 1/2-minute span when they outscored the Eagles 16-3.
“We have to maintain a level of energy and focus, especially on defense,” said Eagles head coach Dustin Larsen.
Johnson made three of six 3-point attempts, including one midway through the third quarter that started a 10-6 Joplin run that included baskets by Samantha Stout, Taylor and Megan Ritter.
Joplin travels to Springfield on Thursday to face Kickapoo in another Ozark Conference contest.