The Neosho Wildcats head into Central Ozark Conference Large play next Tuesday having won three of their last four games.
On Tuesday, Neosho took it to Newton County rival East Newton with a commanding 83-49 win over the Patriots, as the Wildcats controlled the game from stem to stern.
Neosho jumped out to a 22-7 lead after one quarter and took the game into running clock mode early in the fourth quarter.
The 48 points were the lowest number for the Patriots, who have scored at least 76 points in a number of games this season.
“I felt like our guys gave a focused defensive effort,” Neosho head coach Tony Branscum said, “but our guys were fortunate they turned it over a little bit tonight. They were hot from the 3-point line the first half and they typically shoot it well, and they did tonight. We were fortunate they turned it over so much.
“We got back well and stopped the ball. That’s something that’s been a little bit of a problem this year for us in a few games. Tonight, we did a good job of getting back and not giving them easy baskets.
“We came out and played hard defensively. We crashed the boards well and we took quality shots. Those three things combined to get us off to a good start and then the guys didn’t let up. Their effort stayed consistent and consistently high, and that was important for us.”
Neosho improved to 4-11 overall on the season with Tuesday night’s impressive win.
“It’s important for us to play well going into conference,” Branscum said, “but really it’s just important for us to play well any point in the season. The team is developing an identity and it took a little longer than we would have liked to have seen things come around and play quality ball for entire games. We feel like we’re in a decent spot right now. We need to be because the conference is a juggernaut and there’s no off nights, just tough battles and rugged battles in conference. For us to win conference games, we’re going to have to play very well and near our ceiling.”
Brady Wise led Neosho with a career-high and game-high 33 points, beating out the 32 points he scored earlier this season against McDonald County and Memphis Middle College. Wise and the Wildcats provided a highlight in the first quarter, with a set play that culminated in an alley oop and a Wise slam dunk. Wise scored 21 points in the second and third quarters.
A.C. Marion finished with 20 points and Cole Seward added 15 for three Wildcats in double-digits.
East Newton freshman Connor Killion led the Patriots with 14 points, while Bryce Cambers added 10 and the trio of Dustin McDermott, Dalton Moore, and Davis Turner each had six.
The Patriots, now 6-5 on the season, return to action tonight on the road against Marionville. East Newton plays its first four games of the new year away from home, including the Big 8 Conference opener Tuesday against Lamar.
NEOSHO 83, EAST NEWTON 49
East Newton 7 16 20 6 — 49
Neosho 22 21 26 14 — 83
EAST NEWTON (6-5) — Connor Killion 14, Bryce Cambers 10, Dustin McDermott 6, Dalton Moore 6, Davis Turner 6, Caleb Jackson 4, Lucas Kimbrough 2, Colton Ball 1.
NEOSHO (4-11) — Brady Wise 33, A.C. Marion 20, Cole Seward 15, Kaden King 6, Cade Cradduck 4, Yeej Lee 2, Cade Lyerla 2, Sam Cook 1.