CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Carl Junction and Seneca both cruised to convincing wins on the opening night of the Carl Junction Lady Bulldog Classic.
Carl Junction held a 20-point lead before the first quarter ended on the way to a 61-17 victory over McDonald County, while Seneca dominated the middle quarters in a 53-30 win over Joplin.
In other action on Monday night, Springdale (Arkansas) came from behind to beat Neosho 44-33, and Nevada rolled past the Webb City JV 66-23.
In today’s semifinals, Nevada (1-0) plays Springdale (1-3) at 7 p.m. and Seneca (2-0) meets Carl Junction (1-0) at 8:30.
Ranked seventh in Class 4 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association, the Bulldogs forced the Mustangs into numerous turnovers from the start with their pressure defense.
Converting many of those turnovers into points in transition, Carl Junction raced out to a 24-2 lead by the time the first period concluded.
“We’ve really been working on picking up our pace,” Carl Junction coach Brad Shorter said. “Being able to pressure like that, our kids are understanding it more and we’ve got the bodies to do it. It’s a fun way to play. I thought our kids did a good job of pressuring them and getting some turnovers that led to easy baskets.”
A hoop in the paint from Katie Scott pushed CJ’s lead to 34-4 with five minutes left in the second quarter.
A senior standout, Scott poured in 25 points to lead the Bulldogs.
“I think Katie has improved tremendously overall, especially with her conditioning and court vision,” Shorter said of the Drury commit. “She gets everyone involved and does a lot of nice things on the court.”
Jessa Hylton added eight points for Carl Junction and Dani Wrensch scored seven. Kristin Penn scored nine for the Mustangs.
Seneca had three players score in double figures, as Aliya Grotjohn had 17, Haley Nash added 16 and Chelsea Beville chipped in 12.
“It was a good performance overall,” Seneca coach Drew Schulte said. “Our girls played hard and they played as a team, and that’s what we want them to do in every game.”
Gabby Quinn’s nine points paced Joplin, while Madeleine Farber added six and Brynn Driver had five.
The Eagles scored the final four points of a back-and-forth opening frame on hoops from Brooke Nice and Avery Gage to take a 13-12 lead.
But Seneca used a 16-2 run in the second quarter to take control. While the Eagles struggled with turnovers, the Indians were able to get shots at point-blank range, with Beville scoring eight during the burst.
“We switched things up defensively in the second quarter,” Schulte said. “Our press wasn’t working early in the game and Joplin was getting some good shots. We had to change it up.”
Ella Hafer’s two free throws cut Joplin’s deficit to 28-18 at the break.
“We stopped doing what we needed to do defensively,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “We got a little lazy and didn’t get through screens like we’re supposed to. Our post defense hurt us in the second quarter. But we were still within striking distance coming out of halftime, but the third quarter was a lot like the second.”
Seneca scored the first 15 points of the third quarter, with Grotjohn putting in 10 during the burst, extending the lead to 43-18.
“We came out and played hard,” Schulte said. “At times, we ran our offense really well. We want to go inside and then work out. We stuck with our game plan.”
Joplin (1-2) plays McDonald County (0-1) at 5:30 tonight in a consolation bracket clash.
“Some of our youth got exposed tonight,” Williams said. “But I like our girls a lot. We just have to continue to work to get better, and hopefully we’ll bounce back tomorrow night.”
Neosho led by as many as eight in the first half, but Springdale rode a 20-8 third period to a come-from-behind win.
The Wildcats led 13-5, but Springdale cut its deficit to 18-14 by halftime.
After outscoring the Wildcats 20-8 in the third period, Springdale took a 34-25 lead into the fourth quarter and Neosho was unable to rally late.
Thaly Sysavanh scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Olivia Hixson led Neosho (0-2) with 13 points.
Ranked fifth in Class 4, Nevada led 29-6 by the end of the first quarter.
Relying on an aggressive full-court press, Brent Bartlett’s Tigers extended their lead to 42-10 by halftime. By the time the third period ended, Nevada’s lead was 58-18.
Payge Dahmer scored 23 points with six 3-pointers for Nevada, while Teagan Charles added 10. Kyah Sanborn scored 16 points for Webb City’s JV.
Webb City JV meets Neosho at 4 p.m. today in consolation bracket action.