The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

December 14, 2013

Cardinals, Burgess hold off Neosho in Joplin tourney

Leading by only two points with less than a minute left to play, Webb City senior guard Mikaela Burgess missed a free-throw attempt.

However, she quickly redeemed herself.

Moments after the miss, Burgess stole the ball and drove in for a layup to put the Cardinals ahead by two possessions with 45 seconds left. Webb City went on to make enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for a 63-58 win against Neosho during the semifnals of Joplin Freeman/Lady Eagle Classic on Friday night at Missouri Southern’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.

“It was a big play,” Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. “She has a never-say-die attitude. In high school basketball, things aren’t always going to go your way. But Mikaela never quits. She got us that basket when we really needed it.”

Burgess scored a team-high 21 points for the second-seeded Cardinals, who advance to face Marshfield at 6:30 p.m. today in the tournament championship. Neosho will play Olathe South at 5 p.m. today in the third-place game.

Webb City (3-0) advanced to the title game, but Neosho (3-1) certainly didn’t make it easy.

Burgess hit two 3-pointers in the opening minutes to help Webb City take an 8-1 lead. The Wildcats battled back to make it 34-30 at halftime when Brooke Stauffer banked in a 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer.

Neosho entered the tournament with the sixth seed, but defeated Springdale Har-Ber on Thursday and battled Webb City until the end.

“Coming into the game, I was a little worried about a mental letdown,” Neosho coach Lance Robbins said. “But I was proud of our kids’ effort. Webb City got an early lead on us, but the kids never gave up.”

Junior Chelsey Henry led Neosho with 25 points, and 6-foot-2 junior Morgan Rogers was a force inside with 11 points.

Desirea Buerge scored 11 for Webb City.

“We knew Neosho was going to be a lot better,” Shorter said. “They were aggressive and physical. Lance does a great job with them.”

 Marshfield 48, Olathe South 40

With the help of three players scoring in double figures, the fifth-seeded Marshfield Jays defeated top-seeded Olathe South in a semifinal matchup.

“It was a huge win,” Marshfield coach Shelly Jones said. “Every win is big. Olathe South is a good team. The key for us is when they got quick points on us, we didn’t get rattled. We rebounded well throughout the whole game.”

Senior point guard Lauren Aldridge led Marshfield with 14 points. Peyton Greenlee and Makenna Smith added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Aldridge, who has committed to play for the Kansas Jayhawks, matched up most of the against Olathe South point guard Kylee Kopatich, who is committed to play for the Kansas State Wildcats.

Kopatich led all scorers with 18 points, but Aldridge made key plays down the stretch to help the Jays earn the win.

Trailing 33-32 in the final seconds of the third quarter, Aldridge hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The shot gave Marshfield (2-0) a lead going into the fourth quarter, and the Jays never trailed again.

“That was one of those key plays,” Jones said. “She’s got a quick release. That was a huge momentum swing.”

Aldridge made four free throws, Smith hit a 3-pointer and Alison VanDiggelen made both free-throw attempts to help the Jays outscore Olathe South 13-7 in the final quarter.

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