WEBB CITY — Although both games in the Class 4, District 12 boys tournament were won Monday night by the lower-seeded teams, they were not upsets.
Not upsets when No. 5 McDonald County and No. 6 Carl Junction feature the two best players in the tournament, Cooper Reece (McDonald County) and Trent Smith (Carl Junction).
Reece and fellow senior Boston Dowd made sure they would get one more high school basketball game by combining for 49 points in a 58-51 victory over Monett in the Cardinal Dome.
McDonald County outscored Monett 41-24 in the second half and most of the heavy lifting offensively from Reece and Dowd, who scored the Mustangs’ first 37 points.
Saul Garcia stepped in for a 3-point shot early in the fourth to give McDonald County a 40-34 lead and Koby McAlister scored all six of his points in the fourth.
Reece finished with 28 and Dowd had 21.
Monett had three players produce double-digit points: Trevon Price 15 and Jackson Spencer and Cole McCullough 14 each.
McCullough did much of the damage against McDonald County in that first half, as his back-to-back trifectas gave the Cubs a 20-10 advantage early second quarter. McCullough and Spencer, in fact, sparked a 12-2 Monett run from an 8-all score in the first with four 3-point shots, three by McCullough.
McCullough scored 11 points in the first half and his final three came in the third for a 35-34 score.
Monett finished its season 9-17.
McDonald County improved to 5-19 with the victory entering a district semifinal contest against top seed Webb City. The Mustangs ended an 11-game losing streak.
“We did a little better job of that in the second half,” McDonald County head coach Kyle Fields said. “I thought our effort was better in the second half, as well as our offensive execution. We were getting some good shots early, we just weren’t making them. We were getting a little bit discouraged, but we just stayed the course and luckily made a run coming out of halftime.
“We played better defensively tonight than we have, it’s just been getting better and better. Tonight, we put four good quarters together defensively.”
The keys for McDonald County against Webb City will be can the Mustang guards handle the Cardinals’ pressure defense and can McDonald County slow down the pace and play a game with a final score in the 50s, a score that suits the Mustangs much better than anything in the 60s or 70s. Can Reece and Dowd stay out of foul trouble against Webb City’s slashing players, namely Alex Gaskill and Terrell Kabala?
In the regular season, Webb City defeated McDonald County 77-45.
In the second game Monday, defending champion Carl Junction upended Cassville 65-54 behind 29 points from Smith.
Carl Junction, 5-20 overall, earned a spot against No. 2 Neosho in the semifinals.