In their first match-up, Cassville took on host Republic. The Wildcats found themselves in good territory after the first quarter trailing by only 4 at 17-13. However Republic would flex its muscles and went on three different scoring runs to put the game out of the 'Cats hands with a 59-29 win.
Clint Reed was three-for-five 3-5 from the floor with 9 points while also providing two steals and two assists, and Kelby Haynes tallied 11 points and eight rebounds. Overall the Wildcats did outrebound the Tigers 28 to 27 but also turned the ball over 24 times.
Cassville struggled in the game to run their up-tempo, steal-oriented defense as every time they tried Republic made them pay. The Wildcats also could not do anything inside as Republic's big men controlled the shots in the paint.
The Wildcats' next game was against Class 5 Hillcrest, another team with a reputable background. Cassville kept the game close all the way through and even gave themselves a shot to win it.
At the end of the first quarter, Hillcrest led 16-13. The second quarter was highly defensive with both teams scoring a combined 10 points. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, 8 were Republic's.
Despite this setback, Cassville surged back in the third quarter and pulled to within 2 points of the lead. The Cats could not hold it though and Hillcrest pulled away again. The game ended with Hillcrest defeating the Wildcats 51-40.
Individually, Haynes, Reed, and Tim Orrell had good games. Haynes shot 75 percent from the free-throw line (6-8), had a total of 14 points, grabbed the team high five rebounds and stole the ball away seven times. Reed shot 50 percent from the three-point arc (2-4), 60 percent from the floor (3-5), scored 10 points, and had three assists. Orrell shot 3-5 from beyond the arc and racked up 11 points.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 46 percent from three-point range, 75 percent from the free-throw line but only 39 percent from the field.
Cassville's last game of the tournament pitted them against West Plains. The Wildcats showed just how good they could be, leading 47-39 at the end of the third quarter. In the final stanza, the young team showed their inexperience and West Plains rallied to beat the 'Cats 62-55.
Orrell was a key contributor in the game against the Zizzers with 16 points and three steals. Other individual standouts were: Chris Born, 8 points and 2 assists; Reed, four steals and eight assists; Rose, 11 points and five rebounds; and Ethan Couch, 9 points and three rebounds.
Against West Plains, the Wildcats again had trouble from the free-throw line, shooting only 46 percent. The squad also turned the ball over 23 times.
In spite of the three losses, Cassville played three outstanding opponents and played well with two of them. As they showed in the West Plains game, the Wildcats look almost ready to turn that "magic" corner and toward a successful season.