By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Adam St. Peter’s and Abe Hueller’s inside game. Charlie Brown’s clutch fourth-quarter scoring. Daniel Stokes’ defense and ball handling.
The Joplin Eagles used a complete effort to reach one of their season-long goals on Tuesday night, topping the Carl Junction Bulldogs 65-57 to reach the 15-win mark.
The win avenged Joplin’s 73-58 loss to the Bulldogs in the championship game of the Carthage Tournament on Dec. 1.
“They beat us my freshman and sophomore year, too, so it’s kind of a payback win,” said Brown, who scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. “It was a little chippy out there, but it feels good to win a game like that.”
The Bulldogs — namely Travis Vogt — came out on fire early, building a 19-8 lead.
But Joplin (15-9) began to outplay the Bulldogs in the second quarter. The Eagles used a 12-2 run — which started with Stokes’ 3-pointer to end the first quarter — to cut the Bulldog lead to 21-20.
The Eagles took their first lead when they scored the first five points of the third quarter — a Connor McCord trey and two Brown free throws — to go up 33-31.
St. Peter then took control of the boards and scored eight of Joplin’s remaining 14 points in the quarter, including consecutive putbacks that gave the Eagles a 45-38 lead.
For the night, Joplin outrebounded the Bulldogs 32-19.
“That was an emphasis for us coming into the game, control the glass and make sure we could pound the ball inside,” said St. Peter, who was 8-for-13 from the field for 17 points. “They couldn’t handle our bigs tonight.”
Joplin’s defense was key after the first quarter. The Eagles were able to control Carl Junction’s isolation sets and dribble penetration.
“We wanted to go underneath the screen and slide through and go ahead and make them shoot that outside shot,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “We didn’t want them dribble-penetrating. We wanted them to settle for the 3.”
Matt Magee scored 19 to lead the Bulldogs while Vogt added 18, 10 of which came in the first quarter. No other Bulldog hit double figures.
“Coach was just telling us to play defense and execute our sets,” Brown said. “They got into kind of a one-on-one style and we stayed together. If you play as a team, it’s going to beat one-on-one every time. We just executed.”
Carl Junction — which clinched a share of the Big 8 title on Friday — used a quick 7-0 run to whittle Joplin’s lead to 59-53 with 1:30 remaining, but that was as close as the Bulldogs could get.
Hueller, who scored 10 points, hit four straight free throws to help Joplin squelch the run.
“Credit Joplin. They came to play,” Carl Junction coach Kyle Williams said. “The game came down to hustle plays, and they came up with several loose balls and second-chance opportunities. The St. Peter kid was physical and beat us in the post.”
Joplin now prepares for district play, where the Eagles will face Willard on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Parkview.
And now they’ll be able to do that coming off a feel-good win.
“We felt all along that we had a real solid group that could match up with Carl Junction,” Jeff Williams said. “Our kids really picked it up defensively in the second half. We told them whoever guarded down the stretch would win and we did that. I’m proud of them.”