The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 11, 2014

Eagles hit late free throws, earn win over Carl Junction

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Joplin’s girls basketball team narrowly held off a Carl Junction rally in the fourth quarter, coming away with a 61-59 win on Saturday.

Joplin (4-6) entered the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead. The Bulldogs’ 20-point fourth quarter nearly netted them a chance at overtime, but the Eagles made 6-of-12 free throws in the quarter to secure the win.

Carl Junction kept the game close early, trailing 15-14 after the first quarter. But a big second quarter by Bailey Taylor led Joplin to a 37-28 halftime lead. Taylor scored 14 of her 21 total points in the second.

“She had a nice night,” Joplin coach Dustin Larsen said. “She’s doing a lot of good things, being a good leader ... Doing a very good job of getting more balance, getting more people involved. She’s finding some different ways to score and also looking to make good passes and decisions when other people are open too.”

The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 6-2 run, eventually getting within four in the third quarter, but Taylor and Katie Sticklen responded, carrying Joplin to a 50-39 lead heading into the fourth.

“Our guard defense was, I thought, decent.” Carl Junction coach Tiffany Dirks said. “But, when you let No. 23 (Sticklen) stand there and shoot ... wide open shots, because we would slack off of her and give her three feet. Our game plan in the beginning was to play up on top of her and our guards wouldn’t stay up with her. They were giving her too much room and letting her shoot.”

Carl Junction again closed the gap, scoring nine straight in the fourth quarter to make it a two-point game at 50-48. Bryce Boyd had six points for the Bulldogs in the fourth.

From there, Joplin’s fate would come down to free throws in the final minutes with Carl Junction forced to foul. The Eagle lead held at two until Kelsey Johnson grabbed the rebound off a Sam Kopp miss, was fouled with 13.7 seconds left and sank both foul shots to go up 61-57.

Katie Skaggs put in a two-point basket with less than 10 seconds, but Joplin avoided another foul and ran out the clock, sealing the win.

“Joplin played well,” Dirks said. “I was very impressed with how they played. I thought that they’ve gotten a lot better than when we had seen them and scouted them. And I think they’re going to continue to get better, so they’re an up-and-coming team. But at the same time, we didn’t play our best game.”

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