Cassville finds rhythm in second half, comes back to beat Southwest
By George Ulmer
The Cassville Wildcats have been working on it since the beginning of the season. They have strived to make it happen throughout their games but ultimately have struggled. What is it?
Teamwork, cohesiveness, geling. Pick your adjective. It's the thing that often makes or breaks a team and it might be said that Thursday night Cassville found their "it."
The Wildcats trailed late in the third quarter. Southwest had scored nine straight points out of half-time to take a five point lead, but Cassville rallied.
The Wildcats started their best scoring run of Head Coach Randy Roberston's tenure at Cassville. Cassville hit 27 unanswered points to go ahead 53-31 and clinch the victory. In the last 10 minutes of the game Cassville out-scored Southwest 36-7 and played beautifully on the court.
After a time-out Cory Howard was the first to step up for his team. Using a motion offense Howard got free and swished a three-point basket to cut the deficit to two.
Then after a Southwest turnover, Clint Reed did the same as his teammate had, this time putting Cassville up by one. Another Southwest turnover and a floater by Reed and the rout was on.
The Wildcats never looked back after that, scoring 10 straight points to end the third quarter and then 17 to start the fourth.
Cassville knew everything was going their way when in the fourth Howard got tripped up with the ball, but before getting called for traveling the senior threw a blind pass perfectly to Reed who put in the alley-oop.
The Wildcats even had a chance for possibly their first dunk ever when 6'4" Marcus Henry broke on a fast break and had an easy shot at the basket. Despite some urging fans Henry decided to take the more consistent, easy lay-up.
However, more than individual play, the 'Cats saw their team play contribute to the win. Cassville had good ball control all night turning the ball over only 10 times. Conversely they forced 21 turnovers from the Trojans.
The Wildcats also shot well from the free-throw line especially when it mattered most. Cassville went 10-for-13 (77%) in the fourth quarter. They also shot 50 percent (4-8) from the three-point arc.
Henry had possibly his best game of the season. The senior chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds for Cassville. Reed also did well leading the Wildcats in scoring with 17 and also hauling in two rebounds. Howard was Cassville's last man in double figures with 15. Howard also nabbed two rebounds.
Others scoring for Cassville were Martin Hernandez 7, Ethan Couch 6, Kelby Haynes 2 and Dannon Rose 2. Rose also had six rebounds.
Cassville also played Reeds Spring on Tuesday. The Wildcats fell behind early, but narrowed the gap to two at 38-36 in the third quarter. However, Reeds Spring had just enough to keep the Wildcats at bay winning 61-54.
Howard and Hernandez both had big nights for Cassville. Howard scored 16 points for the Wildcats and had two steals. Hernandez had a break out game for the local team with a career high 14 points.
Others scoring for Cassville included Reed 8, Haynes 8, Rose 6 and Couch 2.
After the Southwest win Cassville (2-7) will get ready next week for the Southwest tournament. The Wildcats play Pierce City on Thursday, December 27 at 6 p.m.
The Trojans were hoping for a little bit more from their trip to Cassville. For three quarters the Class three squad played right with Class four Cassville, but the fourth quarter did them in.
After three quarters of play Southwest trailed 36-31. Even more impressive was that the Trojans took their biggest lead of the game in third. After half-time Southwest came out and scored 9 consecutive points to go ahead 31-26, but it was then that things started to unravel.
Cassville rallied and finished the third on a 10-0 run. Then to begin the fourth quarter the Wildcats scored 17 straight. Southwest struggled especially in the fourth quarter with turnovers. The Trojans committed nine in the last frame.
Despite the unwanted finish there were still some good things the Trojans took away from the contest. Southwest shot 69 percent (9-13) from the free-throw line and played with the bigger school for three full quarters.
Codie Harmon and Josh Hartin both played well for Southwest. Harmon scored 9 points and grabbed three rebounds. Hartin led the squad with 12 points.
Others scoring for Southwest were Levi Roberts 8, Matt Whittington 4, Tyler Wallace 3 and Caleb Mitchell 1.
The Trojans (1-6) will be playing in their own tournament next week. They will face off against Purdy Thursday, Dec. 27 at 9 p.m.