The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 16, 2013

Seneca district loaded with talented teams

That Class 3 District 12 Tournament at Seneca is a humdinger.

That’s true whether we’re discussing boys or girls basketball.

The Southwest girls bring a splendid 23-3 record, an Ozark 7 Conference championship at 5-0, two tournament titles (Blue Eye and Rogersville) and a No. 4 seeding to the tourney.

Said Trojan coach Brad Phillips on Saturday: “We’re probably 1 or 2 in another district in Missouri.”

Seeds 1-3 are Ash Grove, Mount Vernon and East Newton. They have their own impressive credentials. Foremost for Ash Grove and East Newton when it comes to Southwest: Ash Grove and East Newton have defeated the Trojans. Mount Vernon, Big 8 Conference champion at 7-0, is defending MSHSAA Class 3 titlist.

Added Phillips of District 12: “It’s tough and wide-open.”

Phillips then backtracked a bit.

“Maybe Ash Grove has the upper hand,” he said. “They’re loaded if they have everyone healthy. Coach (Brent) Milleson can go 8-10 players deep.”

Girls games on Monday are Sarcoxie vs. Ash Grove at 4 p.m., Diamond vs. Southwest at 5:30, Clever vs. Mount Vernon at 7 and Seneca vs. East Newton at 8:30.

Southwest has won 13 games in a row since losing 40-35 at East Newton on Jan. 3.

Now, though, the Trojans must prepare turn their attention to Diamond (14-11), Phillips said. Southwest handled Brian Brimacombe’s Wildcats 49-36 on Jan. 21 at Diamond.

“Diamond did a good job with its zone defense,” Phillips said. “They battled us hard.”

Phillips believes the Trojans haven’t won a district game since they moved up to Class 3 some eight years ago.

Phillips said he probably will go with the Trojans’ taller lineup consisting of 6-foot senior Taylor Mettlach, 5-10 senior Michaela Mitchell, 5-11 sophomore Shannon Mitchell, 5-8 junior Montana Hendrix and 5-5 sophomore Nicole Ickes.

Cady Swindle, a 5-8 senior, and 5-4 freshman Jaime Shrum make Southwest quicker, Phillips said. Jessica Morgan, a 5-7 sophomore, is another valuable performer, Phillips said.

The boys field is even more impressive considering sixth-seeded Southwest, coached by Jess Ross, is 16-9 overall. The Trojans won the Ozark 7 at 6-0.

The boys opening schedule on Tuesday is East Newton vs. No. 1 Mount Vernon at 4 p.m., Ash Grove vs. fourth-seeded Diamond at 5:30, Sarcoxie vs. second-seeded Clever at 7 and Southwest vs. No. 3 Seneca at 8:30.

Southwest hopes to avenge a 61-56 home loss to the Indians on Jan. 14.

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