WEBB CITY — The McDonald County Mustangs sure did put a great big scare into top seed Webb City during their Class 4, District 12 semifinal contest Wednesday night inside the Cardinal Dome.
Like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, McDonald County deflated Webb City’s often high-octane offense by controlling the ball themselves and slowing down the pace.
McDonald County led 24-18 at halftime, as outstanding senior Cooper Reece again showed why he’s one of the premier basketball players in the area with 18 first-half points.
Webb City, though, finally overtook McDonald County in the second half and eked out a 41-35 victory to earn the Cardinals’ fourth straight district championship game appearance.
Reece, coming off a tremendous 28-point night Monday in the win against Monett, finished with a game-high 25 points, although his scoring pace slowed after halftime. Reece missed four free throws early second half, points left behind that may have made a big difference in the game.
In his final game, Reece finished 11 for 18 from the floor, 1-3 from 3-point range, and 2-7 at the stripe with seven rebounds and two assists.
Fellow senior Boston Dowd, who combined with Reece for 49 points against Monett, scored just a single basket in his final high school basketball game. Dowd grabbed five rebounds.
Cale Adamson provided a lift with six points, four in the first half, and Trent Alik rounded out McDonald County’s scoring totals with a single basket in the fourth.
McDonald County finished its season with a 5-20 record. Saul Garcia was the other Mustang senior this season.
Webb City senior Alex Gaskill proved too much for the Mustangs in the second half, as he netted a pair of critical baskets in the fourth quarter that kept McDonald County at bay. Gaskill scored nine in the first half and 10 more in the second for his team-high 19 points.
Gaskill made 9 of 13 shots from the field and his night included six rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots in nearly 32 minutes of work. Yes, Gaskill played nearly the entire game.
Terrell Kabala finished with seven points, none bigger than his basket in the third quarter for a 27-26 lead, Webb City’s first lead since early second quarter and a lead the Cardinals would not surrender the rest of the game.
Nickhai Howard added five points, Austin Bash four, Jaystin Smith two, and Gary Clinton one.
Webb City improved to 15-9 overall entering Friday night’s district title clash against Neosho.