By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The winners on Monday night in opening girls games in the talent-rich Central Ozark Conference Large Division probably were favorites.
Ozark, outscoring Webb City by four points in the final quarter, prevailed 58-54 in the most competitive of the four games.
Unbeaten Republic, defending MSHSAA Class 4 champion, defeated visiting Carthage 75-50.
Branson and Nixa won on the road, Nixa beat Neosho 54-40 and Branson handled Willard 50-40.
Webb City and Ozark were tied 13-13 after one quarter. It was 23-23 at the half and 41 apiece after three quarters.
Webb City coach Brad Shorter had no doubt about the turning point in its contest.
“We were leading by eight points in the third quarter and had six straight scoreless possessions with a timeout in the middle,” Shorter said on Tuesday.
“We shot the ball pretty well,” Shorter said. “We didn’t play as well as we could. Turnovers really hurt. We’ll get back to work today ... and improve.”
The Cardinals, 11-3 overall, received 17 points from Casey Heger, 16 from Mikaela Burgess and 14 from Desirea Buerge. Burgess hit four treys and Heger three.
“Two of those treys by (6-foot-2 junior) Heger helped us build the eight-point lead,” Shorter said.
Jackie Fugate paced Ozark with 17 points and all-stater Hannah Cook added 14 and Brie Tauai had 12.
Republic (11-0), which led Carthage 41-25 at the half, was paced by all-stater Alice Heinzler with 18 points. Mica Mansker tallied 14.
Leading scorers for Carthage were Quincy Charleston (12), Chloe Shepherd (11) and Vanessa Pawlak (10).
Jeana Raper and Angie Allen combined for 28 Nixa points. Neosho, which played Nixa even in the second half, received 10 points from Morgan Rogers.
The Branson scoring leader with 15 was Moriah Dapprich. Amber Percival had 12 points for Willard.
The Pirates’ Dapprich has said she will join sister Michaela at Wichita State of the Missouri Valley Conference.