Pardon the pun, but the Neosho Wildcats got the lead out on Thursday and cruised to their second victory of the season with a 76-44 drubbing of Lead Hill (Ark.) in the first round of the Black Division of the Neosho Holiday Classic.
Winners of their last two games, the Wildcats (2-5) dominated the Tigers in all phases and received significant contributions from all over the court. They dominated on the boards both offensively and defensively, forced turnovers and turned those miscues into points on the other end of the floor.
The Wildcats saw 11 different players score in the game with four finishing in double figures. The contributions from those 16 all came at different stages of the game, too, which allowed the Wildcats to keep their foot on the gas for the duration of the contest.
The first quarter belonged to Kaden Roy and Lukas Werneke, who each scored six points. Chris Paullus and Preston Johnson scored six and five, respectively, in the second quarter, Darrian Guillory exploded for 10 points in the third and Werneke added seven more, and Devin Hames rattled in eight points in the fourth.
“Luke has had three good games in a row,” Wildcats coach Jason Horn said. “Early on he went at it offensively, and lately I think he’s really started going at it on the defensive glass and that was big. But he’s been getting put backs and strong defensive looks in the post. This is two good games in a row for Kaden Roy — he’s starting to get to the rim and is doing what makes him successful. And then Darrian, once he gets going he’s a load. He did a good job.”
Guillory led the Wildcats with 16 points, while Werneke dominated in the paint and finished with 15. Roy and Hames both had 10 points. Paullus and Johnson finished with six points, while Logan Stuart had five and Blake Peoples, Tanner Mitchell and Ethan Siler had two points.
“They went really hard,” Wildcats coach Jason Horn said of his team. “Good thing was we didn’t rattle and we kept going right back at them and I think we just wore them out in the long run.”
After their struggles last year, the Wildcats were in the unfamiliar territory of putting a running clock on the Tigers in the second half when the lead reached 30 points. It was a refreshing reminder for Horn just how far his team has come.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve put a running clock on anyone,” Horn said. “We got a few put on us last year, so it was nice to be on the other end of that.”
Page 2 of 2 - The Wildcats led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter and extended their lead to 42-29 by halftime. They played even better in the second half and outscored the Tigers 22-3 in the third to extend it to 64-35.
“I thought the second quarter, we settled down and we started to figure out who we were guarding and had some spurts and runs and started to space that lead,” Horn said. “And then in the third quarter I really felt like we locked down and got a little more organized defensively and quit letting them have second chance points.”
Evan Yoacham led the Tigers with 11 points, while Leo Goertner and Cooper Lemon had eight, Trey Rogers seven, Chris Wilcox and Matt Cain four and Jesse Heymens two.
Neosho advances to take on Morrilton (Ark.) at 3:30 p.m. today. Lead Hill will face Pierce City at 9 a.m. today.