Joplin High School’s boys picked the wrong time — and the wrong opponent — to start out cold on the basketball floor.
Springfield Kickapoo, which scored the first seven points, handed the Eagles an 84-39 Ozark Conference loss on Friday to dampen activities on “Senior Night” in Kaminsky Gymnasium.
The Chiefs, ranked fifth in Class 5, improved to 17-4 overall and 6-0 in the Ozark with their seventh win in a row.
Joplin, playing its final home game, fell to 9-13, 2-5 entering Tuesday night’s conference contest at Springfield Glendale.
Kickapoo, runner-up to St. Louis Chaminade in Class 5 last season, built a 23-8 lead after one quarter. It was 54-17 at the half as the Chiefs won their 19th straight against the Eagles.
“We played hard. We competed with them in the first quarter,” Joplin coach Jeff Hafer said. “But we couldn’t finish shots. We missed free throws. You have to put the ball in the basket.
“We couldn’t capitalize,” Hafer said. “Kickapoo did.
“Kickapoo is a very good team,” Hafer said. “It’s a fun team to watch. (All-staters) Jared Ridder and Cameron Davis are very good players. Coach (Dick) Rippee does a good job with them.”
The 6-foot-7 Ridder, who’s signed with Xavier (Ohio), spiced a 30-point effort with five treys and two dunks. Navy-bound Davis, 5-11, tallied 12. They left the game with 1:53 left in the third period.
The Chiefs also received 11 points from 6-1 sophomore Donyae McCaskill.
Joplin scoring leaders were 6-0 senior Dineji Olaniyan (10), 5-7 senior Nate Cox (9) and 6-2 senior Malaki Love (6).
Said Rippee: “We’ve been playing well. We have a lot of weapons. We shot the ball very well.
“We’re trying to make it tough defensively (on the opposition),” Rippee said. “I thought our intensity was good in the first half.
“Joplin had several offensive rebounds in the first half,” Rippee said. “We did a better job of blocking out in the second half.”
Notes: Joplin will lose seven seniors — Cox, Love, Olaniyan, 6-3 Tory Lewis, injured 5-10 Spencer Newell, 6-2 Owen Richardson and 6-2 Logan Swadner. “They’ve shown up and given maximum effort each day,” Hafer said. “Most of them have been in our program at least three years. They’re excellent representatives for our program and school. This has been a good group for the young kids to see.” ... Joplin’s Braeden Testerman, a 6-1 junior and long-range marksman, is sidelined with a broken wrist. He’ll have a cast for four weeks, Hafer said.