The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 26, 2013

Joplin braces for Willard in district opener

The seedings suggest that Joplin’s boys face a strong basketball opponent tonight in the semifinals of the Class 5 District 12 tournament at Springfield Parkview High School.

Joplin coach Jeff Williams didn’t disagree on Monday.

“It will be a challenge for our players to match their intensity and handle their press,” Williams said of the Eagles’ outing against the second-seeded Willard Tigers. “They have a new head coach (Lamont Frazier). He has done a good job. He has them playing hard and playing together.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Joplin, from the Ozark Conference, and Willard, from the Central Ozark Conference Large Division, have respective records of 15-9 and 16-8.

“I know our guys are looking forward to the game,” Williams said. “It will boil down to players making plays on both sides. It’s a winnable game for both teams.

“I’ve been pleased with our balance in recent games,” Williams said. “Our half-court sets have been pretty good.”

Said the Tigers’ Frazier: “Throw those seedings out the window. The only thing we can do is continue what we’re doing. That’s play as hard as we can. That’s No. 1. We realize we’ll make mistakes.

“We’re concerned about Joplin because of its experience,” Frazier said. “We mainly have a group of juniors. Some of those juniors have more experience than our three seniors.”

Chris Kendrix, a 6-foot-4 junior, is the Tigers’ leading player, Frazier said. Expected to join Kendrix in the starting lineup are 5-10 sophomore Levi McGinnis, 6-1 junior Skyler Baker, 6-5 senior Kolbe Kinghorn and 6-2 junior Zakorey Barr.

Williams will counter with 6-1 junior Charlie Brown, 6-1 senior Connor McCord, 6-3 senior Daniel Stokes, 6-4 senior Abe Hueller and 6-4 senior Adam St. Peter.

Coming off the bench for the Eagles, Williams said, will be 6-3 senior Tucker Wallace, 6-0 junior Chase Hall and 6-4 junior Dillon McVay.

Improved guard play, Williams said, has enabled the Eagles to take some of the pressure off Brown.

“Charlie has seen so many double-teams during the season,” Williams said.

NOTES: Today’s 6 p.m. semifinal in the five-team tourney is Central (4) vs. favored Parkview. The boys championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday. ... The 6-4 Frazier, 40, is a graduate of Charleston High School (1990) and the University of Missouri. He played basketball at Mizzou — as did uncle Ricky. Lamont’s cousin, Corey, played at St. Louis University. ... Lamont Frazier was MU captain in 1993-94 (28-4, 14-0 Big Eight) under Norm Stewart.

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