By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Playing their fifth game in six days, the Carl Junction Bulldogs were feeling the fatigue.
Joplin wasn’t making the situation any easier, forcing the Bulldogs into missed shots and turnovers early.
Clinging to an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, Carl Junction coach Tiffany Dirks used the break to motivate her team.
“I told them that we are a better team than what we were playing,” Dirks said. “It was time for them to step up and play basketball. I told them that I knew they were tired and that they had played a lot of games, but they couldn’t take a quarter off just because they were tired. They needed to get after it and show them what type of basketball they could play.”
The Bulldogs responded.
Carl Junction (11-9) opened the second quarter on a 15-0 run and went on to beat the Eagles 54-32 on Tuesday night at Missouri Southern’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
“Our offense started to pick up,” Dirks said. “We started to get our bigs involved more. We were able to get them defensively a little more flustered and hit the seams better. That helped us get more open shots.”
Joplin coach Dustin Larsen was pleased with how his team played early.
“We had a lot of energy defensively,” he said. “We had good positioning, good solid box outs and we were taking care of the ball on the offensive end. We were giving ourselves opportunities.”
However, fatigue also was a factor for the Eagles. Joplin was playing its third game in four days and were doing so without a deep bench.
“Fatigue kind of set in there,” Larsen said.
Carl Junction took a 29-14 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run as Joplin turned the ball over on three of its first six possessions.
The Eagles didn’t score in the quarter until the 1:51 mark when Bailey Taylor knocked down two free throws.
Taylor led the Eagles with 17 points as she was 15-for-18 at the free-throw line.
Joplin was limited to only two field goals in the second half.
Carl Junction used a balanced attack as five players scored at least seven points. Freshman Maria Chism led the Bulldogs with 13 points, while Brenlee McPherson scored 11. Bryce Boyd, Timbre Murty and Katie Skaggs scored 8, 8, and 7, respectively.
The Bulldogs will face Lamar on Tuesday. Joplin will be at home for an Ozark Conference game against Lebanon on Thursday.