NEOSHO, Mo. —
Webb City girls basketball coach Brad Shorter wasn’t disappointed to see Van Buren’s 6-foot-2 center Maria Santillana in foul trouble early.
Santillana put in a healthy contribution despite having her minutes heavily limited as she had already committed three personal fouls at halftime, but still managed 11 points by the break.
“She’s a strong player,” Shorter said. “I had my fingers crossed over there hoping she’d get in a little foul trouble. We took it at her a little bit, forced her to get her in foul trouble.”
Santillana went on to foul out, and Webb City pulled out a 63-58 overtime victory on Friday night at the Neosho Middle School. Webb City advances to the Neosho Holiday Classic Gold Division championship game against Bentonville at 5 p.m. today at Neosho High School.
Santillana committed her fourth foul with 1:52 left in the third quarter, and was benched until the 5-minute mark in the fourth.
Van Buren trailed most of the second half, but never fell out of striking distance. A 3-pointer by Halie Jennen got the Pointers within two late in the fourth quarter, but Webb City’s Lexey Kneib hit a trey of her own to extend the Cardinals’ lead to five with 5:20 to play.
“They hit some big 3s there late,” Shorter said. “That for sure got them back in it. And you know, we had some possessions where we shot a little early in the possession, didn’t work the ball enough to try to get it inside.”
With just 49 seconds remaining, Van Buren was able to tie it at 55 on a lay-up by Alexis Jones, only her second basket of the night.
Neither team was able to score again in the final minute and regulation ended with the score tied at 55.
Santillana lasted only just over a minute in the extra period, fouling out with 3:41 to go.
Webb City guard Mikaela Burgess immediately swung the momentum Webb City’s way in overtime after a quiet six-point output in regulation. Burgess poured in a 3-pointer and two free throws to open the four-minute overtime, giving the Lady Cardinals a five-point advantage with barely over a minute off the clock.
“With a team like we’ve got, a group of kids, six seniors, we’ve been in a lot of situations like that,” Shorter said. “I was a little surprised at some of our shot selection late, but we’ll learn. We’ll learn from it. Our kids stayed calm and stayed poised and got the looks we needed late.”
Already a two-possession game, a steal from Asia Bemo on a Van Buren inbounds pass with 12.2 seconds left sealed the deal for the Lady Cardinals as they went on to win 63-58.
Desirea Buerge finished with 24 points to lead all scorers and Santillana was next with 15. She also grabbed nine rebounds.
Neosho 62, Carthage 31
Chelsey Henry and Morgan Rogers combined for 37 points out of the 62 Neosho scored in its win over Carthage in the Neosho Holiday Classic.
The win propels Neosho to the Girls Black Division championship against Springdale. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m.today at Neosho High School.
Carthage managed only 31 points and coach Jim Moore said a lack of patience on offense contributed to that low output.
“Then frustration set in and we just continued to force,” he said. “You put together five, six, seven bad possessions in a row, the game can get out of hand in a hurry and that’s really what I thought happened. But you have to give a lot of credit to Neosho for being able to stop what we do well.”
The Lady Wildcats did some damage at the free throw line, going 20-for-26 from the charity stripe for a 77 percent mark from there.
Carthage only had four scorers on the night, led by 13 from Maya Williams, but none of the other three managed more than eight points.
Neosho had a more balanced attack with three players in double-figures. Henry finished with 24, Rogers with 13 and Addi Long added 10.
“Giving up 62 points, that’s not really what we have in mind,” Moore said. “We ideally want to keep them in the low 50s at the very highest. Tonight it still wouldn’t have been enough, we didn’t put enough points on the board.”