By Craig Hull
The Joplin Globe
Adam St. Peter admitted not one facet of the defensive effort was at the forefront Monday night.
“There was so much we wanted to work on that we didn’t focus on any one part. If anything, it was team defense,” said St. Peter, a 6-foot-4 senior forward for Joplin.
The Eagles, limiting visiting McDonald County to single field goals in the first, second and fourth quarters, earned a 55-19 victory over the Mustangs at Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium as Joplin opened its home schedule.
After four games to open the season in Carthage – a 2-1 mark in the Carthage Tournament followed by a road victory over the Tigers last week – the Eagles welcome a pair of home games this week starting with a 36-point victory to improve to 4-1 before Webb City comes calling Friday at Missouri Southern.
Joplin outscored McDonald County by 10 in each of the opening quarters and led 25-5 at halftime before a 15-2 run to start the third quarter allowed both teams to call upon the reserves early.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our defensive effort,” said Joplin coach Jeff Williams. “We contested shots, we defended the passing lanes, caused turnovers. We needed to improve our defensive rebounding, they got too many second shot opportunities, but to limit a team to five points in a half says a lot about where our kids were focused tonight.”
Added St. Peter, “I thought our defensive communication improved. We did a better job of calling out screens, switching off and working off the ball. When we talk about team defensive effort, it’s an overall effort to make them work for a shot and tonight most of those shots were contested.”
Junior point guard Charlie Brown paced the Eagles scoring with 17 points. He was 6 of 9 shooting from the floor and connected on three 3-pointers including a pair of deep three’s during Joplin’s 15-2 third quarter run. He added four assists.
St. Peter, senior guard Daniel Stokes and senior forward Abe Hueller scored seven each with St. Peter grabbing a game-high six rebounds.
Tucker Wallace came off the bench to score six for Joplin and senior guard Daniel Stokes, the Eagles fifth starter, added five.
McDonald County (1-2) was led by sophomore guard Jake Wood who scored eight off the bench.
The Mustangs got their first field goal with 3:55 left in the first quarter; it’s second on a putback with less than six minutes left in the second quarter.
Wood had both McDonald County field goals in the third quarter scoring in the post with under three minutes left to play and again on a driving jumper in the final minute.
The Mustangs Daton Aubrey drilled a 3-pointer in the final of the fourth quarter for the final basket of the game.