SENECA — After the Neosho Lady Wildcats’ somewhat disappointing 45-33 season-opening win over the Joplin Lady Eagles, Neosho head coach Grant Berendt talked about just putting together consecutive good quarters.

Like the Joplin game, Neosho came out with a slow start Monday night against Newton County rival Seneca, but the Lady Wildcats poured it on the Lady Indians 58-25 after outscoring the home team 38-15 in the middle quarters.

In their first two games of the season, the Lady Wildcats outscored their opponents 39-16 in the second quarter. Talk about going into halftime on a high note.

“We had another slow start,” Berendt said. “We talked to the girls at the end of the first quarter and we liked the way that we came out and owned the tone of that second quarter, and extended the lead. They went on a 5-0 run there, but we talked about winning the first few minutes and establishing what we’re going to do and what we’re about. We did a good job of taking that lead and expanding it.”

Neosho’s defense forced several turnovers Monday night and the Lady Indians often looked as if this was their first game of the season.

The Lady Indians finished with three field goals in the first half, then made four more in the second for a grand total of seven field goals.
Seneca’s Mekaylee Beard scored the first points of the game and her basket counted for the Lady Indians’ lone field goal of the first 8 minutes. Sarah Hoover made a basket and Chaney Platner buried a 3-point shot late in the second for a 26-14 halftime score.

Foul trouble was a potential concern for the Lady Wildcats, however, in a first half plagued with fouls.

“At one point, it was a 12-point game and they had only two field goals,” Berendt said. “What we struggled with was fouling and not being in the right place at the right time and not moving their feet and reaching. We’ve got a lack of depth right now. We’re trying to build our depth, but our lack of depth early on affects us. I had three of our starters and our sixth man on the bench the majority of the second quarter, so we had some young kids step in and play some quality minutes, especially defensively, which is what we are looking for.”

Neosho sophomore Mary Dunbar, as well as freshmen Brylee King and Olivia Hixson, played those quality minutes in the first half.

Offensively, six different Lady Wildcats found the scoring column with three in double-digits and a fourth not far away.

Senior point guard Tori Frazier led all scorers with 14 points, then Makayla Hayes added 12, Madison Flynn 11, Allison Burr nine, Caitlyn Jordon seven, and Emilee Kivett five, all in the first half for Kivett after she picked up her fourth personal with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third and did not return until the game was in running clock mode for the last several minutes. Jordon and Burr each netted seven points after halftime.

“Tori’s a capable scorer,” Berendt said. “She’s always played that second-tier role in her mind, her head. At the JV level, she flat tore it up. She’s our starting point guard right now. She’s going to play a lot of minutes and she’s starting to embrace that until we get Ashley Talley healthy. Then, the good thing for us is that we’ll have two healthy point guards and both are confident in their abilities. I think it will help us out.

“Tori can score. We had to call a timeout in the middle of the first and look at Tori and tell her, ‘Shoot the ball, Tori.’ She passed up a couple looks. She’s a very unselfish kid, but sometimes she has to pull the trigger.”

The Lady Wildcats used a 17-2 to start the second half and build a commanding 43-16 lead. Hayes and Frazier hit back-to-back 3-point shots near the end of that 17-2 run.

Hoover led Seneca with 10 points and the Lady Indians’ struggles included no double-digit point totals in any single quarter. The Lady Indians managed only 11 points in the second half.

Neosho and Seneca both return to action after Thanksgiving in the Carl Junction tournament.

NEOSHO 58, SENECA 25
Neosho    7 19 19 13 — 58
Seneca    5  9   6   5  — 25
NEOSHO (2-0) — Tori Frazier 14, Makayla Hayes 12, Madison Flynn 11, Allison Burr 9, Caitlyn Jordon 7, Emilee Kivett 5.
SENECA (0-1) — Sarah Hoover 10, Chaney Platner 5, Mekaylee Beard 4, Taylor Mailes 4, Chelsea Beville 2.
3-point goals — Neosho 6 (Frazier 3, Flynn, Hayes, Kivett), Seneca 1 (Platner).