By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Carl Junction’s 78-39 loss to Republic on Jan. 15 served as a wakeup call for the Bulldogs.
“It was an ugly game,” Carl Junction senior Travis Vogt said. “We weren’t very mature then. I think we were a little selfish and weren’t listening to coaches much.”
After the game, the Bulldogs made changes to their personnel, as well as their offensive and defensive sets. The team has responded by winning 12 of its past 14 games and has captured the program’s first district championship since 1957.
Coincidentally, the Bulldogs will meet Republic in the Class 4 sectionals at 6 p.m. today at Ozark High School.
“That was probably the lowest point of our season,” Carl Junction coach Kyle Williams said of his team’s first game against Republic. “We were going through about a two-week stretch where there were some issues with team chemistry and we weren’t fully together. That was the turning point of our season. We came in on that Wednesday and said ‘We’re going to have a different attitude and a different approach to how we do things.’ We got everyone back on board, and we got everyone to buy into one concept.”
Carl Junction (18-10) has shown the ability to handle the adversity of early-season woes, as well as slow starts to games. In the Class 4 District 12 tournament at Carthage, the Bulldogs battled through a poor shooting night to beat McDonald County 51-44, then rallied to beat Webb City and Carthage in overtime the following two nights.
“We came together as a team at the end of the year and we didn’t want to leave without a district championship,” Carl Junction junior guard Matt Magee said.
Republic coach Trevyor Fisher, who is in his first season with the Tigers after serving as Missouri State’s director of basketball operations the past seven years, said he is expecting a different Carl Junction team than the one he faced nearly two months ago.
“We shot the ball very well, and they probably didn’t play one of their better games,” Fisher said. “The score is not any indication of how well they can play.
“They’re a scary team and are playing with a lot of confidence.”
Vogt leads the Bulldogs, averaging about 17 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3 assists. He scored 30 points to lift Carl Junction past Carthage in the district title game.
“He can kind of do it all,” Fisher said. “He’s a tough matchup for anybody. He has a chance to come out and score 30 on any night.”
Magee also can be a dangerous scorer, averaging 16 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 assists. Junior guard Dustin Satterlee contributes about 11 points per game.
Republic (20-4) boasts a balanced attack with six players average 6 points or more. Cody Greiger leads the way with 12.2 points per game and is followed by Jake Fletcher (10.0), Marcus Miller (8.4), Dylan Bekemeier (7.3), Canyon Smith (6.6) and Grant Hancock (6.0).
“We’ve played Willard,” Williams said. “We’ve played Webb. We’ve played some really good teams, and this is the most complete team that we’ve seen throughout the season. They’ve got great guard play, they can shoot it, they got bigs who can score, they got guys who can slash and they’re deep.”
Williams said they need a great effort to win.
“They’re an unbelievable team, and it’s going to take a perfect game for us,” Williams said. “But we feel like after what we went through as long as we can keep it close in the fourth quarter, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”