Nearly a week after playing their most consistent game of the season against conference and district rival Webb City, the Neosho Wildcats had a disastrous start Monday night against Central Ozark Conference foe Joplin.
Joplin built a 20-2 lead after one quarter en route to a 63-49 victory on Neosho’s Senior Night.
The Eagles came out firing on all cylinders and scored the first 13 points. Evan Guillory — who won the slam dunk contest in the Neosho Holiday Classic — landed several punches on the Wildcats in the first quarter, going for 11 points and nine rebounds highlighted by a pair of dunks.
Guillory finished with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds.
Joplin improved to 12-12 overall and 4-4 COC.
Three Neosho players finished in double figures, led by a career-high 16 points from junior Quincey Willis. Willis, normally a bench spark for Neosho, scored 14 points after halftime.
In his final home game at Neosho High, A.C. Marion netted 12 of his 14 points in the second quarter.
Junior guard Mason Gammons added 10 points to round out the totals of the trio in double figures.
Meanwhile, junior Sam Cook had three points and 10 rebounds, while seniors Cade Cradduck, Derek Ferguson, and Cole Seward each had two points. Point guard Kaden King is the other Neosho senior.
Neosho dropped to 9-14 overall and 1-7 COC. The Wildcats return to action Friday night at home against Nixa, although they are playing at Neosho Junior High.
Inclement weather scrapped Neosho and Nixa last Friday.
Neosho earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Class 4, District 12 tournament and the Wildcats have an bye and wait on the winner of Cassville and Carl Junction in the semifinals.
The Wildcats received that seed by virtue of winning games against district opponents Cassville (52-49), Monett (63-58), McDonald County (62-42), and Carl Junction (60-57) in the regular season.
Neosho played top seed and district host Webb City to a 72-64 score recently in the Cardinal Dome, even leading in the fourth quarter until the Cardinals went on a backbreaking run.