It didn’t matter whether it was by one or 100 points, the Neosho Lady Wildcats were happy to open the regular season with a 51-50 victory over Joplin in a thriller in the regular season opener on Tuesday at NHS.
It was a thrilling finish for those in attendance. Despite trailing only once (9-8) in the contest, the Lady Wildcats found themselves holding off a charging Lady Eagles team for the final 1:41 of the contest.
After leading by as many as 10 points in the early going, the Lady Wildcats watched as Joplin’s Bailey Taylor got red-hot in the fourth quarter — to the tune of 14 points — only to help pull the Lady Eagles even late in the fourth.
Taylor hit shots to cut Joplin’s deficit to 43-41 with 5:12 left in the game, 45-43 with 4:07 left, 47-46 with 3:27 to go and tied it at 50 with a pair of free throws with 1:50 left. Still, Neosho wouldn’t falter. The decisive point came on a Morgan Rogers free throw with 1:41 left and they held on, despite three Joplin possessions in the time that was left.
“A win is a win,” Neosho’s Chelsey Henry said. “Even though we didn’t win by 50, we won by one and that is excellent.
“We passed the ball well and that allowed us to move the ball down the floor and get some good looks.”
Lady Wildcats coach Lance Robbins echoed those same sentiments.
“Tonight we were able to find some things out about our team and about some of our kids,” Robbins said. “They competed hard for four quarter and Joplin did too. At the end of the year a ‘W’ is a ‘W’ whether it’s by 10 or by one, it still goes down the same.”
Indeed, the Lady Wildcats were efficient with the ball in their hands. Despite being a young team, the early season jitters seemed to elude them as well.
“We have a very unselfish group,” Robbins said. “That’s one thing that I’ve been pleased with so far at this point in the season, we’ve been moving the ball very well in practice and I think we passed the ball very well tonight during the game.
“I thought our transition game tonight was very good.”
Henry, who had 10 points in the third quarter alone, eight of which came on transition scores, led the team with 16 points. Brooke Stauffer and Rogers had 10 points apiece while Matty Liedtke finished with six, Morgan Rathmann five and Corea Lowery four.
Taylor led the Lady Eagles with 22 points while Jacqueline Lieurance finished with 11.
Page 2 of 2 - Neosho kicks off play at the Joplin Tournament next Thursday.