WEBB CITY — Once, twice, three times a victory for the Neosho Lady Wildcats this season against rival McDonald County.
The third victory came in a Class 4, District 12 quarterfinal contest Saturday afternoon in the Cardinal Dome, Neosho victorious by a 41-29 final score.
“Being a rivalry game and everything,” Neosho head coach Matt Hixson said. “As young as we are and coming out in an atmosphere like this, it’s a great facility but I think at times it overwhelms people that are coming here. Obviously, we had a slow first quarter, but Libby (Olivia Hixson) stepping up like she did in the second quarter, knocking down back-to-back-to-back threes, it amped us up and we went on that 9-1 run. I don’t think we ever really looked back.
“We had a slow start again in the third quarter, but then once we called a timeout, we got them settled down and we started executing. We were able to put it away in the end when it counted from the free throw line. I was proud of that as well.”
Unlike both earlier games this season against McDonald County, Neosho took control of the lead in the first half, thanks to Olivia Hixson’s trio of trifectas early in the second quarter that gave the Lady Wildcats a 13-5 lead. Neosho did not trail after the first quarter, a quarter that ended in a 4-all score.
Olivia Hixson scored a team-high 15 points and a dozen of her points stemmed from threes. Mary Dunbar went for nine points, all in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter. Madison Flynn added seven points, Kristy Pace four, and Brylee King, Avery Renfro, and Michelle Lindsay two each.
Neosho improved to 8-17 overall on the season.
Ragan Wilson and Kristin Penn provided much of the pop for the Lady Mustangs on Saturday. Wilson finished with a team-high 11 points before fouling out in the final minute, while Penn scored 10 points and the Wilson-Penn duo produced 72.4 percent of McDonald County’s points.
Sam Frazier and Laney Wilson each added three points and Mattie Leach had two.
McDonald County finished with a 7-19 overall mark.
Neosho returns to action Wednesday in the semifinals against top seed and returning Class 4 state tournament runner-up Carl Junction (16-9), who’s beaten Neosho twice already this season.
The Lady Bulldogs are led by junior center Katie Scott, who’s averaged 22.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.1 blocked shots per game. Scott made 120 of her first 153 free throw attempts (78 percent) and she poses a major mismatch defensively for the Lady Wildcats.
“It’s never easy dealing with a reigning all-conference, all-district kid like her,” Coach Hixson said. “Especially with her talent set and size and everything else. We’ll have to scheme a little bit defensively, but I really like our chances offensively because we have been having some really good practices lately and the girls have been buying in at the right time. They’re playing well together, moving the ball, and I think it showed tonight.
“It’s no big secret. Everybody’s tired at this time of the year, everybody’s dragging at certain points in the game, but they did a good job of keeping each other amped up and going. We’ll see what Wednesday holds for us.”
Carl Junction won both previous meetings this season against Neosho by lopsided scores, 65-31 in the third place game of the Carl Junction Classic and 58-25 in Central Ozark Conference play.
Carl Junction and Neosho tip at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday from the Cardinal Dome.