By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
Webb City coach Landon Cornish said his Cardinals are beginning to get into basketball shape after another state championship football season got them off to a late start.
They looked like they were in midseason form on Friday night.
Webb City used a suffocating pressure defense and a stellar transition game to rough up the Joplin Eagles 65-37 at Missouri Southern’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
Cornish called it the most complete effort of the season for his 4-1 Cardinals.
“I’d say it is, probably because we’re getting into better shape,” he said. “Coming in off football season, we’re not in the type of shape we want to be in to get up and down and run full court. We’ve had two weeks now and we’re starting to get our legs under us and we’ve got a great rotation with guys coming off the bench.”
That rotation led to a balanced scoring attack for Webb City, which placed four players in double figures.
Phoenix Johnson had 15 points — 11 in the second half — while Logan Williams scored 14, including 13 in the first half. Kohl Slaughter added 12 points and nine rebounds while Nate Brown scored 11.
“Most of the time we’ll have a few guys in double figures,” Cornish said. “We don’t have anybody who typically goes off for 20. We just get out and run and share the ball well.”
Joplin (4-2), meanwhile, had just three players score on the night.
Charlie Brown poured in a game-high 23 points — including hitting 11 of his 14 free throws — but that was supplemented only by Adam St. Peter’s 11 points and Abe Hueller’s three points.
Webb City ended the night with 13 steals and forced the Eagles into 25 turnovers.
“We were just trying to speed them up as much as possible and try to get ahead as fast as possible,” Webb City’s Williams said. “We just tried to outrun them and not give them a lot of good shots.”
Webb City wasted little time in taking control of the game. The Cardinals scored the game’s first 11 points and led 20-5 after the first eight minutes.
Webb City had the lead to 20 at halftime and then opened the third quarter on a 15-1 run to go ahead 50-16. Joplin scored four of its five third-quarter points in the final 42 seconds.
“When you go on the road you need to get your work done early and not let teams hang around in the second half,” Cornish said. “I felt like it was really important to start the third quarter like that.”
Joplin is off until after the Kaminsky Classic after the Christmas break.
Webb City, meanwhile, will try and use the dominant win to gain momentum for a Tuesday night showdown with Carl Junction.
“This is huge,” Williams said. “It just gets the other teams thinking about us a little bit.”