CARTHAGE, Mo. — It didn’t take long for Scott Moore to pick up his first win in charge of the Carthage High School girls basketball team.
In Moore’s debut at the helm, Carthage claimed a 49-40 victory over Hillcrest on Tuesday night in the 2019-20 season opener inside the CHS Gymnasium.
“It always feels good to get that first win,” said Moore, who previously coached at Rogers Heritage in Arkansas. “I threw a bunch of different things at my team tonight to see how they would handle them, and it was good for me to learn how the girls handled different things and how to trust them in different situations. And it was good for the girls to get a win as they buy in to what I’m selling.”
Freshman point guard Kianna Yates led Carthage with 17 points. When she wasn’t distributing the ball to her teammates, Yates had success penetrating into the lane again and again in her prep debut.
“Kianna is going to be a talented player in our league,” Moore said. “She’s learning on the fly, so it’s fun to coach her. She does a good job of spreading the ball around. And she’s a sponge. She absorbs everything.”
Junior guard/forward Hailey Fullerton added 11 points for Carthage, while senior guard/forward Sara Golden had eight points.
The 6-foot-1 Fullerton, who averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game last winter is the lone returning starter from last year’s squad that went 13-14, as the Tigers must overcome the loss of eight departed seniors.
Along with Yates, Fullerton and Golden, seniors Karlee Kinder and Jordan Miller rounded out Carthage’s starting lineup on Tuesday. Juniors Katie Crowe, Lauren Wilson and Rylee Anderson saw plenty of action off the bench for the hosts.
Sophomore guard Mariah Robinson scored 17 points to lead the Hornets of the Ozark Conference.
The Tigers scored the first eight points of the nonconference clash and never trailed. Seven straight points from Fullerton, a 3-pointer and a pair of hoops in transition, gave Carthage a comfortable 15-4 cushion at the end of the first period.
“We hit a lot of shots early, and we got into some pressing action,” said Moore, who was also previously on the women’s basketball staff at Missouri State. “It was good for us to work on some of those things.”
Yates scored eight points in the second quarter and the hosts led 28-17 at halftime.
Hillcrest trimmed its deficit to three with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from Robinson and back-to-back midrange jumpers from Grace Percival.
But Carthage responded with a 13-0 run, with Wilson, Anderson, Yates and Golden all contributing points during the burst that all but sealed the win.
“We were pressing, and they got hot,” Moore said. “Once they started missing, we were able to rebound and run and push our lead back up to a comfortable margin. I think the shots weren’t falling late because we ran out of steam a little bit.”
After the one-sided first quarter, the second and third periods were even and the Hornets outscored the Tigers by two in the final frame.
Carthage’s annual invitational begins on Dec. 5. The tourney hosts play Waynesville next Thursday night at 7 p.m.
“I think it’s a good, competitive tournament,” Moore said. “Hopefully we can fix a few things in practice, and we’ll get back after it next Thursday.”