The Neosho Wildcats finished their regular season with a 79-48 loss Thursday night to the Nixa Eagles on Senior Night.

The Neosho Wildcats finished their regular season with a 79-48 loss Thursday night to the Nixa Eagles on Senior Night.
Neosho honored seniors Connor Johnson, Bryce Murphy, Coleman Scott, Ethan Siler and Brian Banks, four of whom have played three years of varsity for the Wildcats during nine-, nine- and 14-win seasons thus far.
Neosho — 14-12 overall and 4-4 Central Ozark Conference Large — turns around five days later to play Nixa at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nixa, host of the Class 5, District 12 tournament.
Neosho trailed Nixa 34-26 late in the first half, but Siler was called for a personal foul and then a technical foul, giving him four personal fouls with the technical counted against him. Nixa came out of that sequence ahead 39-26 and the Eagles took a 43-31 halftime lead.
In the second half, Nixa outscored Neosho 36-17, including 29-11 when the game entered running clock mode early in the fourth quarter.
Christian Bundy led Nixa (ranked No. 6 in Class 5) with 21 points, while four others joined him in double figures. Evan Bergmann hit for 15 points, Austin Bracker 13, Seth Viebrock 12 and Braeden Combs 10, as Nixa had both its perimeter and interior games clicking at full cylinder.
Scott led Neosho with 13 points and Brady Wise added 10. Meanwhile, Banks, who had been sidelined with an injury since the West Memphis game in the Neosho Holiday Classic in late December, returned to the court and hit a 3-point shot. Banks, a new addition to both Neosho’s football and basketball teams his senior year, provided Neosho a versatile player on both ends.
“I did expect it to be a tough game,” Neosho head coach Tony Branscum said. “Hard-fought and physical with those posts (Bundy, Bracker). It was. I did expect us to stick better with them, but I liked some of the indicators that I saw in the first half. I am confident that we can play them well the whole game on Tuesday and have a chance to win at the end.”
Nixa finished the regular season 23-3 and 7-1 COC Large.
Early in the second half, a Johnson trifecta made it a 52-38 game, but the Eagles outscored the Wildcats 11-2 the rest of the quarter to go into the fourth ahead 63-40.
Bergmann hit back-to-back trifectas and Nathan Elmer made it three straight treys for the Eagles and they gained their 30-point margin (72-42) for a running clock.
“It got away from us,” Branscum said. “We need to control our emotions a little better. I think the emotions of the game and the frustration set in momentarily. And it was only momentarily, because all-in-all the guys played hard. We’ve got to keep our composure 100 percent of the time and keep battling, because you never know when momentum can swing your way. We will be ready for Tuesday.”
This Neosho group of seniors helped the Wildcats earn their first winning season since 2009-10 and the Wildcats have made boys basketball relevant once again at Neosho after some tough years.
“The seniors have done a great job this season,” Branscum said, as he shifted his focus from the big picture to the moment. “They played really well tonight and competed hard, which has become their m.o. Proud of all those guys.
“Brian Banks starting tonight and hitting a trey to start the game was a great moment. It was really nice to see him in uniform and on the floor after such an unfortunate injury so early in the season. That was fun, just a perfect situation for him and a perfect moment for Senior Night. That part of it couldn’t have gone any better.”

NEOSHO (14-12, 4-4) — Coleman Scott 13, Brady Wise 10, Ethan Siler 6, Connor Johnson 5, Bryce Murphy 4, Brian Banks 3, Lucas Kibler 3, Cade Cradduck 2, A.C. Marion 2.
NIXA (23-3, 7-1) — Christian Bundy 21, Evan Bergmann 15, Austin Bracker 13, Seth Viehrock 12, Braeden Combs 10, Drew Canady 5, Nathan Elmer 3.