WILLARD — The Neosho Wildcats and Lady Wildcats knew before entering it that Central Ozark Conference play would be rough and the first two games definitely reflected that.
On Friday night, the Neosho boys fell 89-55 and the girls lost 61-28, as both girls and boys start COC play 0-2 after Republic and Willard.
Willard's 6-foot-5 junior forward Daniel Abreu has made a name for himself recently for scoring the basketball.
In the late-December Blue & Gold Tournament in Springfield, Abreu broke a 28-year-old tournament scoring record with 125 points in four games and four days.
In early January, Abreu reached 1,000 career points, during a game against Clever.
Abreu, who scored 26 last season against Neosho, delivered a game-high 39 points Friday night and he showed his shooting touch with a perfect 12 for 12 performance at the stripe.
Mason Gammons and A.C. Marion finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively, as the Wildcats dropped to 6-8 overall and 0-2 COC.
Neosho's Saturday contest against Dora in the Scoreboard Guy Shootout in Ozark has been moved to February 9.
Now, the Wildcats' next game, weather permitting, should be against Newton County foe East Newton. The Wildcats do not return to COC play until the 29th against Carl Junction, when the Wildcats play their first home COC game.
East Newton stands at 6-7 overall entering their game Tuesday night at home against Diamond. Since winning the Southwest Holiday Tournament, the Patriots dropped three straight against Reeds Spring (71-66), Sarcoxie (75-47), and Nevada (65-39).
In the girls contest Friday night, Neosho senior Madison Flynn led the way with 13 points, while Olivia Hixson added seven, Maile Gindling four, and Michelle Lindsay and Malea Robertson two each. Flynn was the only Lady Wildcat in double figures in each conference game.
Willard ended a four-game losing streak (Lady Tigers had lost 82-67 at home to Lebanon the night before playing Neosho) and improved to 9-6 overall and 0-2 COC.
Neosho, meanwhile, dropped to 5-9 overall and 0-2 COC, and the Lady Wildcats look to end a four-game skid when they face Glendale in the Smith-Cotton Tournament in Sedalia on Thursday. This just might be what the doctor ordered for Neosho, since the Lady Falcons of Glendale have struggled aplenty this season.