WEBB CITY — Part Two of the Neosho Wildcats and the Webb City Cardinals in 2019 proved to be even better than Part One.
Yes, it was the rare sequel that not only lived up to the first but surpassed it.
Their first game played out like two heavyweight fighters exchanging punches for 15 rounds and Neosho and Webb City battled for two overtimes in the second game before the home Cardinals emerged with a 67-65 victory Friday night in the Class 4, District 12 championship game at the Cardinal Dome.
Neosho missed five straight free throws in overtime and early in double overtime, leaving the door open for Webb City to go through it and come out district champions for the 19th time in Webb City’s boys basketball history.
Three key interior players — Sam Cook, Derek Ferguson, and A.C. Marion — fouled out for Neosho, Ferguson in regulation, Cook in the first overtime, and Marion in the second overtime.
Webb City took advantage of their absence a couple times in both overtimes.
“A couple free throws, a couple rebounds short,” Neosho head coach Zane Culp said. “We kept fighting back, even there at the end when we were down four with no timeouts and came down (to score). If they miss one of those (free throws), we come down and hit a three to tie it. Our boys fought all the way until the end and that was a really fun game.”
Neosho senior point guard Cole Seward netted a game-high 19 points and had seven rebounds and two assists (both team highs) in 36 minutes.
“Last game of his career and probably one of his best,” Culp said, “if not the best. He came to play, hardly ever got any breaks, led us, a great teammate, can’t say enough about that guy. I’ll be excited to watch him in the baseball season.”
Mason Gammons went for 15 points in the first half — all on 3-point shots — and sparked Neosho to a 28-23 halftime lead. Gammons finished with 17 points on the night and had four rebounds and one steal in 40 minutes.
“He carried us that first half,” Culp said. “Mason has the tools to be the best player on the floor a lot of nights, defensively and offensively. He showed that in the first quarter. You can tell in a lot of games when he makes that first one, he just feels good and it’s different, not only with the threes but with going to the hole and handling the ball. It was nice to see, he was on.”
Not playing at full strength after turning his ankle in Wednesday’s win over Carl Junction, Marion gutted it out with 11 points, three rebounds, and one steal.
Marion and fellow seniors Cade Cradduck, Seward, Ferguson, and Kaden King each played their final high school games and they were tantalizingly close to bringing home Neosho a district title.
Neosho boys basketball appeared for the first time in a district championship game since 2003, an achievement for these seniors and something the underclassmen can build upon going forward.
“I remember talking with you at the jamboree,” Culp said, “saying that this is the first time in a while that we have some size. Well, it’s all gone now, except for Sam Cook, but we’ll be a different team next year. We have a lot of guards and we have a few sophomores that are really going to come along. I just think having some consistency with the coaching staff that these guys (seniors) haven’t had, we’ll keep improving on that. I told the younger guys to just remember the feeling you had tonight and that can fuel you to go get some work done and get even better next year.”
Junior forward Cook very much had a district tournament to remember, including his first slam dunk in a game in the victory over Carl Junction and six points and six rebounds in nearly 20 minutes against Webb City. Cook’s old-fashioned three-point play gave Neosho a 51-50 lead early in overtime.
“He’s very much a defensive player,” Culp said. “Very unselfish. Looks to pass the ball, but, you know with the dunk and an and-one and some free throws, he was fun to watch tonight. Like you said, as a senior, he’ll need to take up a little more bulk of the scoring. If he can carry this into the offseason, he could be a very special player.”
Neosho finished its season 10-16.
Despite fouling out late in overtime, Terrell Kabala led Webb City with 16 points and his night included seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one blocked shot. Meanwhile, senior Alex Gaskill finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal in over 38 minutes of court time. Jaystin Smith and Gary Clinton had a couple of those key second-chance baskets and Smith finished with 14 points and Clinton 13 points and seven rebounds.
Overall, on the night, Webb City made 14 more (24-10) and attempted 16 more free throws (36-20) than Neosho and the Cardinals shot a better percentage in the second half and the overtimes (19-25, 76 percent) than they did in the first half (5-11, 45.5 percent). Meanwhile, Neosho shot under 50 percent at the line in the second half and the overtimes.
Webb City improved to 16-9 overall and the Cardinals play District 11 champion and No. 7-ranked Logan-Rogersville (22-5) in a Class 4 sectional contest Tuesday at Nixa. Logan-Rogersville defeated No. 6 West Plains for the district title Saturday.
WEBB CITY 67, NEOSHO 65 (2 OT)
Neosho 15 13 12 8 8 9 — 65
Webb City 19 4 13 12 8 11 — 67
NEOSHO (10-16) — Cole Seward 6-14 7-12 19, Mason Gammons 6-10 0-0 17, Sam Cook 2-2 2-3 6, Cade Cradduck 4-10 0-0 8, Derek Ferguson 1-7 0-0 2, Quincey Willis 0-0 0-0 0, Kaden King 0-0 0-0 0, A.C. Marion 5-11 1-5 11, Landon Austin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 25-55 10-20 65.
WEBB CITY (16-9) — Jaystin Smith 5-6 3-3 14, Terrell Kabala 4-10 7-8 16, Tanner Rogers 1-4 2-2 5, Alex Gaskill 3-11 6-12 12, Austin Bash 2-6 0-0 4, Mekhi Gerrard 0-1 0-0 0, Gary Clinton 4-4 5-8 13, Colton McKee 0-0 0-1 0, Nickhai Howard 1-5 1-2 3. Totals: 20-47 24-36 67.
3-point goals — Neosho 5-18 (Gammons 5-9, Seward 0-4, Marion 0-2, Ferguson 0-2, Cradduck 0-1), Webb City 3-15 (Smith 1-1, Rogers 1-3, Kabala 1-5, Bash 0-2, Howard 0-2, Gaskill 0-1, Gerrard 0-1). Rebounds — Neosho 36 (Seward 7), Webb City 36 (Gaskill 9). Assists — Neosho 2 (Seward), Webb City 11 (Gaskill 7). Turnovers — Neosho 20, Webb City 18. Steals — Neosho 2 (Gammons, Marion), Webb City 6 (Gerrard 2). Blocked shots — Neosho 0, Webb City 2 (Smith, Kabala). Personal fouls — Neosho 28, Webb City 19. Technical fouls — None. Fouled out — Ferguson, Neosho; Cook, Neosho; Marion, Neosho; Kabala, Webb City.