The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 7, 2014

Patient Eagles hold off Dragons

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Typically, the Joplin Eagles like to employ a run-and-gun style. They use pressure defense and try to put up as many shots as possible.

For the first three quarters against Pittsburg, it was mostly your typical Eagles brand of basketball.

However, Joplin took a different approach in the fourth quarter.

Clinging to a two-point lead, Joplin guard Carlos Santillan held the ball at the top of a key for about three minutes in order to shorten the game.

The approach worked as the Eagles held on for a 58-52 win over the Pittsburg Purple Dragons on Tuesday night.

Joplin (5-2) outscored Pittsburg 4-0 in the final quarter.

“It’s legal in high school,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team. I think it helped give us poise. We thought we could bring the game down to two minutes and hopefully get the right guy to the free-throw line.”

Joplin entered the fourth quarter with a 54-52 lead. After both teams were scoreless for the first three minutes of the quarter, Williams called for Santillan to hold the ball with about five minutes left in the game.

Doing so, Pittsburg (0-5) was forced to decide whether to break its zone defense and force the Eagles to play or allow the game to be shortened.

“At that point, we were only down two points and we decided to bring the game down to the final two minutes,” Pittsburg coach Kiley Roelfs said. “Our zone had been working well, so we decided to take our chances with a two-minute game. I’d probably make the same decision again.”

Pittsburg came out of the zone with 2:11 left, and Joplin guard Charlie Brown was fouled with 2:04 remaining. Brown, who led the Eagles with 24 points, hit both free throws to extend Joplin’s lead to 56-52.

The Dragons got the shot they were looking for on the next possession as sophomore forward Dylan Untereker cut backdoor for what appeared to be an open shot. But Joplin’s 6-foot-5 senior center Spencer Layne blocked the shot at the last moment.

“That was a game-saving play by Spencer,” Williams said. “And we told him that after the game.”

Brown finished the game with another pair of free throws to clinch the six-point win.

Pittsburg, however, did a good job of limiting Brown in the second half. After scoring 18 points, including a rim-rattling dunk, in the first half, Brown didn’t make a field goal in the game’s final 16 minutes.

“Their zone was very effective,” Williams said. “They used a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two and really zeroed in on Charlie. We have some things we need to get better at on offense against that zone.”

Joplin led 43-34 at halftime and extended the lead to 47-34 after a pair of Keiondre Adams layups early in the third quarter. Adams finished with 19 points and was Joplin’s only player to make a field goal in the second half.

The Dragons responded with a 13-0 run to tie the game at 47 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

“That was a big run,” Roelfs said. “I was so pleased with how our kids came back. They played with a lot of energy.”

But Pittsburg was never able to take the lead. A 3-pointer by senior guard Spencer Massoth made it 51-50 with 1:52 left in the third. Massoth led the Dragons with 24 points, including 19 in the first half.

Joplin resumes action Thursday night in the Kaminsky Classic. The Eagles will host Vashon in the first round at 7.

Pittsburg is at home against Coffeyville on Friday.

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