The Cassville Wildcats played their last two games of the regular season this week. Both were conference games and the 'Cats were hoping to improve their Big 8 standings. They would improve in the Big 8, despite splitting the games.
Their first contest was against a red hot Monett team. The Cubs started the season with a record of 1-13, but since that mark have been a much improved 6-4. Monett was also 3-2 in the conference.
Cassville jumped out quickly in the game going up 5-0, but Monett answered with a 10-2 run that propelled them into the lead. The Cubs were helped by their tremendous rebounding ratio, which led Cassville 10-5 in the quarter.
A Wildcat three-point bucket near the buzzer left the game tied at 10 a piece and set the tone for what was an extremely exciting game.
In the second frame, Monett relied heavily on the contributions of Kirk Moore, their big man, who scored 9 and helped them start a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the entire game at 17-10. Cassville came right back at them with a 10-2 run of their own and took the lead at 23-21. Monett tied it before the buzzer and both teams went to the break deadlocked at 23.
The third segment of the game saw no runs but a continual back and forth between both teams. All in all, there were six lead changes and three ties in the third quarter. Monett did an excellent job of drawing the 'Cats into trouble as Cassville committed eight fouls in the quarter, which in turn helped the Cubs grab a 3-point lead heading into the fourth.
In the final stanza, a combined 12 points from Tim Orrell and Kelby Haynes was unable to help Cassville whose foul trouble proved costly. The Cubs found the free-throw line 18 times in the fourth and hit on 16 of those attempts. This among other factors led the Cubs past Cassville 61-55.
Cory Howard and Haynes led the Wildcats. Howard hit everything on the night. He was 60 percent (3-5) from beyond the arc and 67 percent (6-9) from the floor as a whole. Howard scored a total of 15 points and grabbed one steal.
Haynes also shot well, 4-8 from the floor and 4-5 at the line. He scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Orrell also had a good night, scoring 13 on 83 percent (5-6) shooting from the line and taking down five rebounds.
Other contributors were: Chris Born, six rebounds, three assists and two steals; Clint Reed, 6 points, three steals and three assists; Dannon Rose, 4 points and two steals; Ryan Schlichtman, one steal; and Ethan Couch, 4 points.
The 'Cats as a team had one of their best nights from the free-throw line (11-13) but allowed Monett to shoot from there 31 times. Cassville also held Monett, who was 22nd in the state in treys, to none. The Wildcats also forced 16 turnovers and drew 17 fouls from the Cubs.
Conversely, the Wildcats had trouble stopping Monett, giving up 61 points. Monett also beat the 'Cats on the boards, tallying 31 rebounds to Cassville's 24. The boys also turned the ball over 17 times and committed 25 fouls. Both Born and Schlichtman fouled out of the game.
In their final game of the regular season, the Wildcats took on the Seneca Indians (9-13 and 0-4). The 'Cats traveled to Seneca where it was homecoming and senior night.
Cassville came out strong in the first quarter of play behind seven rebounds from Born and Haynes. The 'Cats were able to create an 8-0 run and gave themselves an 11-4 lead.
In the second quarter, Cassville forced eight turnovers and extended their lead to 17 in large part due to the combined 18 points of Howard and Orrell.
With the score 33-19, Seneca attempted a comeback, closing the deficit to 11, but the 'Cats fought back, hitting an 8-3 run and shooting 4-5 from the line giving them a 52-37 lead. Seneca again tried to close in during the final frame and came within 9 points at 57-48, but Cassville proved resilient using a 7-0 run to help them to the final score of 64-48.
As a team, the Cats scored 14 points higher than their season average. They made seven treys on the night on 50 percent shooting. Cassville also brought down 33 rebounds and captured 12 steals. The starters outscored Seneca's by 10 and Cassville's bench outscored the Indians' reserves by 6.
Haynes and Howard again headlined the game for Cassville. Haynes had 18 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists while Howard contributed 15 points, to rebounds, one steal and two assists. Haynes shot 50 percent from the field (5-10) and was perfect from the line (7-7). Howard shot 3-5 from the three and 5-8 from the floor.
Orrell also did well, scoring 14, shooting 2-4 from three and 5-9 from the field, and poking out two steals.
Other contributors included: Born, 3 points, 11 rebounds and three assists; Rose, 4 points, seven rebounds and four steals; Reed, 5 points and two steals; Schlichtman 4 points and one steal; and Couch, 1 point.
Cassville moves to 8-17 on the year and finished sixth in the Big 8 with a 2-5 record. The Wildcats opened district play on Tuesday night at Monett. If the Wildcats win, they play Webb City on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Monett.