By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
With 5 minutes and 20 seconds left in the third quarter, the Webb City Cardinals were forced to sit their point guard and eventual tournament MVP Mikaela Burgess with four fouls.
However, the Cardinals held a seven-point lead when Burgess left the game and were able to maintain that lead when she returned to open the fourth quarter. The effort by the Cardinals over that stretch helped propel them to a 51-43 win over the Carthage Tigers on Saturday in the championship game of the Mercy Sportscare CJ Classic.
“Mikaela is a huge player for us, but all of our kids are,” Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. “We got into some bad foul trouble. When that happens, you’re forcing kids into positions they don’t want to play necessarily. But I thought our kids just did a good job of hanging tight.”
Webb City (3-0) 32-25 when Burgess was called for a charging foul with 5:20 left in the third.
With Burgess out of the game, sophomore Desirea Buerge took over a lot of the ballhandling duties and helped the Cardinals go on a 6-0 run to go up 38-25 and then hold on for a 38-31 lead to enter the fourth quarter.
Carthage cut Webb City’s lead to as little as 40-35 with 6:22 left, but the Cardinals then used a free throw and an inside bucket from Buerge, a jumper from Burgess and an inside basket from Casey Heger to go on a 7-0 run and extend the lead to 47-35.
The Cardinals held on in an extremely fast-paced and physical game.
“It was very physical,” Shorter said. “I kind of thought it was the Webb City and Carthage football game. It was two teams wanting to win a championship, so they’re going to get after it and play as hard as they can.”
Heger led the Cardinals with 14 points, while Buerge scored 12 and Burgess had 10.
The Tigers were led by 10 points from junior guard Leigh Ann Craig. Senior guard Chloe’ Shepherd and junior guard Vanessa Pawlak scored nine points each for Carthage.
Carl Junction 46, Nevada 45
Carl Junction junior post Katie Skaggs banked in a shot off the glass as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 46-45 win over the Nevada Tigers in the third-place game.
Skaggs, who finished with nine points, scored six points in the fourth quarter and eight of Carl Junction’s final 12 points of the game.
Carl Junction (2-1) called a timeout with six seconds left, trailing 45-44.
“I told them we’re down one, so at the very least we got to get fouled on the shot,” Carl Junction coach Tiffany Dirks said. “I said that you’ve got to get the ball to Skaggs. So the plan was to get the ball to Skaggs.”
The Bulldogs executed the plan nicely as they found Skaggs by the basket just before the buzzer sounded.
Skaggs said her teammates set her up nicely in the second half.
“I couldn’t have done any of it without my team,” she said. “The passers are who made it completely possible for everybody.”
Nevada trailed 40-32 early in the fourth, but the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to knot the game at 40 with 4:24 left. Nevada took its first lead since midway through the third quarter when Morgan McNeley made an inside basket to go ahead 45-44 with 10.9 seconds remaining.
Freshman Maria Chism led Carl Junction with 13 points. Nevada was led by 12 points from sophomore post Rilie Good.
The Tigers suffered their second consecutive close loss after falling 67-64 to Carthage on Friday night.
Carl Junction, which rebounded from Friday’s 67-40 loss to Webb City, will travel to play Nevada again on Tuesday.
“We’re expecting the same type of game,” Dirks said. “I expect a little bit more pressure from them. We’re going to come back and work to make sure our defense is a little tighter and that we can get through screens a little better. I was pleased with our effort and what we saw today, especially coming off last night. We could have rolled over, but they didn’t. They came out fighting.”
Liberal 49, Monett 32
Baylee Robertson and Rachel Dugan scored 16 points apiece as Liberal beat Monett in the fifth-place game.
Brooke McLean had 14 points for the Cubs.