By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The Joplin Eagles used a 13-0 run that spanned the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter and held on to beat the Rogers Heritage War Eagles 53-49 on Friday night in the semifinals of the 66th annual Carthage Invitational.
The Eagles advance to today’s final where they will face Carl Junction, a 53-51 winner over Carthage in Friday night’s first game.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “They’re starting to believe in this system and they’re buying into what we’re doing.”
Joplin trailed 33-29 after a quick 9-3 Heritage run that included two of Crist Olsen’s five 3-pointers, the second coming at the 3:37 mark of the third quarter.
But Joplin junior Charlie Brown, who led the Eagles with 15 points, hit a spectacular layup and a trey of his own — his second of the quarter — and Connor McCord hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Eagles into the fourth quarter with a 37-33 lead.
Adam St. Peter scored two of his 14 points to open the fourth and Daniel Stokes drained a trey in the first minute of the fourth quarter to cap the 13-0 run and give Joplin a 42-33 lead.
“That was huge,” Williams said. “We got momentum there and I don’t think we ever really relinquished it.”
Heritage did make things interesting in the final minutes, twice cutting the Joplin lead to two points before getting the ball with 21 seconds remaining and trailing just 52-49.
But the Eagle defense forced an off-balance 3-pointer and Tucker Wallace hit one of his two foul shots with two seconds remaining to ice the win.
Joplin shot a sizzling 65 percent from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point land and an impressive 14-of-19 on 2-point field goals. Ten of Joplin’s 14 2-point shots were either layups or putbacks.
“We did a lot better tonight sharing the ball and making good passes,” Williams said. “I think we’re starting to trust each other and that’s a big key in that.”
Brown got his 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. St. Peter was 7-of-10 in getting his 14 points.
Stokes hit just one shot for three points, but was key in running Joplin’s offense before he aggravated an ACL injury in the second half.
“Daniel Stokes was big for us,” Williams said. “He fell down and kind of tweaked his ACL but he was huge for us because he can handle the ball. He’ll be iffy (today) but he got us to the championship game.”
Olsen led the War Eagles with 19 points while Connor Hirsh scored 15.
Carl Junction, 53-51
Carl Junction suffered a brutal shooting night, but hit shots when it needed them the most, thwarting Carthage’s momentum and hanging on for the win.
The Bulldogs shot just 28 percent from the field — 8-of-29 inside the 3-point line and 7-of-25 from beyond the arc — but were clutch when the Tigers threatened.
Matt Magee — who scored a team-high 16 points — drained a 3-pointer late in the third quarter after Carthage had mounted a 7-0 run to whittle the Bulldog lead to 34-33.
Carthage answered again and tied the game at 37, but Andrew Reed and Dustin Satterlee hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take control again.
“Every time we needed a shot, we hit that one shot,” Carl Junction coach Kyle Williams said. “We have a lot of kids who can shoot. We didn’t have the best night shooting, but they hit shots when they needed to.”
Carthage twice cut the Bulldog lead to two points in the fourth quarter. Dawson Allmoslecher’s layup and a Nathan Reid free throw made it 52-50 with just 37 seconds remaining.
But Magee hit a foul shot to make it a three-point game and Allmoslecher went 1-for-2 from the foul line with 15 seconds remaining for the final margin.
“We struggled from the floor,” Williams said. “We didn’t share the ball well. But we forced a lot of bad shots. Credit our defense for getting stops when we needed them.”
Travis Vogt scored 12 points — including eight from the foul line — to add to Magee’s team-high 16 for the Bulldogs while Satterlee added 10.
Allmoslecher had a game-high 18 for Carthage while Anthony Turk added 11. Reid and Johnathan Terry each scored 10.