GRANBY — Free throws made a huge difference in Neosho's 48-39 win Friday over Newton County rival East Newton.
Neosho made 8 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, including the last six, while East Newton missed on eight possible points with five missed free throws, three on the front end of one-and-ones.
East Newton failed to capitalize upon entering the bonus late third quarter.
Neosho, 7-8 on the season, returned to the win column after two straight losses to open Central Ozark Conference play. The Wildcats won for the first time in 2019 and surpassed last season's win total.
The Wildcats are back in action Friday with their Homecoming contest against McDonald County, a game that will undoubtedly have the greatest atmosphere all season. The Wildcats play three straight home games before playing three straight road games. Friday night culminated a three-game road stretch.
East Newton, meanwhile, dropped to 7-8 overall and the Patriots return to action Tuesday night with a Big 8 Conference West road showdown against Monett.
Neosho senior point guard Kaden King found the shooting touch Friday night, as he produced a game-high 13 points. King knocked down a trio of trifectas and hit four straight free throws in the final minute to push the Wildcats' lead to seven.
Fellow seniors A.C. Marion and Cole Seward each added 11 points, senior Derek Ferguson had six points, senior Cade Cradduck picked up five points before fouling out with 3 minutes, 23 seconds remaining, and junior Mason Gammons rounded out the scoring with two points.
Cradduck carried out the defensive task of holding East Newton's explosive sophomore Connor Killion relatively in check. Killion finished with seven points.
East Newton sophomore guard Lucas Kimbrough led the way with 10 points, but he was limited at times by foul trouble. Bryce Cambers hit a pair of trifectas in the fourth quarter, his second bringing the Patriots to within four points, en route to eight points.
Kyson Lahman finished with six points, Tanner Youngblood scored four points in the first quarter, and Davis Turner hit the final basket of the first half and made the first points of the second for his four points.
East Newton made it a 39-37 game on a Killion basket, but the Patriots managed only a pair of Lahman free throws down the stretch, while the Wildcats scored nine points on a Seward basket and seven made free throws, including that six in a row in the last minute.