By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
WEST PLAINS, Mo. —
The Ozark Christian College Ambassadors needed a momentum change in the worst way.
Barclay made 61.5 percent of its 3-pointers in the first half and led 44-35 at the 17:04 mark of the second half.
That was when the Ambassadors turned to Kendall Wingert. The sophomore guard hit consecutive 3-pointers and then faked a 3-pointer to set up an assist to Kyle Wicklund inside.
The eight-point flurry sparked a 12-0 run and helped OCC earn a 77-63 win over the Barclay Bears in the semifinals of the MCCC Tournament on Friday night at Ambassador Gymnasium. The Ambassadors will face Manhattan Christian in the conference tournament championship at 4 p.m. today.
“He absolutely gave us what we needed,” Ozark Christian coach Chris Lahm said. “Our body language was bad. We were playing like we were beat. I took a timeout in the second half and told them they needed to start enjoying the game. They came out and took it to heart. Kendall got us rolling. That’s all there is to it. He got us fired up.”
Barclay (16-8) never led again after Ozark’s 12-0 run.
“We play best when we’re playing team ball, and I think everyone understands that,” Wingert said. “At times, we need people to step up and make shots. I just happened to be that guy tonight. But in any other game, any other guy can step up and hit the shot.”
Ozark (25-6) hit 6-of-10 three-point attempts in the second half after making only 2-of-9 in the first half.
On the flip side, the Bears were 8-for-13 on 3-pointers in the first half before going 0-for-9 in the second half. Barclay’s Brandon Howarth made three treys and scored 13 points in the first half but was limited to two points in the second half.
“They hit everything in the first half, and we hit everything in the second half,” Lahm said. “If they had continued that streak, we would have been in trouble.”
Wicklund, a 6-6 senior post from Carthage, led Ozark with 18 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Wingert finished with 17 points, five assists and five steals. Zac Hill had 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Charles Brodhead led the Bears with 23 points.
Barclay will face Central Christian at 12:30 p.m. today in the third-place game.
OCC must get ready for a Manhattan team the Ambassadors have lost to twice this season.
“It should be a great ballgame, because both teams are playing good basketball,” Lahm said. “Manhattan does a phenomenal job on the perimeter, shooting the ball and playing great defense. We have to do a good job of matching their intensity.”
Calvary Bible women 58, Ozark Christian 42
Maggie Terrell recorded 22 points, 10 rebounds and four steals to lead the Calvary Bible College Warriors past the Ambassadors in the MCCC Tournament fifth-place game.
Ozark Christian (1-28) shot only 27.1 percent from the field.
Sarah Rhodes led the Ambassadors with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Janie Weece contributed 11 points and four rebounds.