Last Friday night, the Cassville Wildcats celebrated Tip-Off by earning their first Big 8 victory of the 2007-08 season.
The Wildcats, who lost to Mt. Vernon earlier in the week, had dropped to 0-2 in the conference, but slowly and surely, they put Lamar away 56-47 in front of a packed house.
Cassville almost beat Lamar last year. The Wildcats started that contest on a 16-0 run before Lamar came all the way back to win in the closing seconds.
This time the 'Cats took a more methodical approach to winning the game, edging the Tigers little by little. Cassville outscored Lamar in all but one quarter.
Lamar got out to a 5-0 lead before Cassville responded. The Wildcats went on a 13-1 run and never trailed again.
Cassville extended its lead over the entire contest, but the Tigers had a chance late in the game. After a 10-3 run in the fourth quarter Lamar cut the score to 51-46, but the Wildcats once again responded and eventually won the game 56-47.
Marcus Henry and Cory Howard played big for Cassville in the contest.
Henry recorded his first career double-double for the Wildcats. The senior poured in 11 points and 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards.
Howard topped all Cassville scorers with 18 points. He hit three treys and had a team-high three steals.
Others scoring for Cassville were Kelby Haynes 11, Clint Reed 8, Martin Hernandez 4, Ethan Couch 2 and Dannon Rose 2.
Also contributing to the win was the huge crowd that had amassed for Cassville's Tip-Off celebration. With a packed student section and a loud crowd, the Wildcats were able to help tip the scales their way.
As a team. Cassville just seemed to out-work the Tigers. Cassville grabbed 42 rebounds in the contest, which was 13 more than Lamar. The 'Cats also netted 15 boards on the offensive end, giving them ample opportunities for second chance points.
Cassville drew the Tigers into 22 fouls, resulting in 33 free throw attempts for the Wildcats.
The 'Cats also played Mt. Vernon this week and lost 31-44.
Cassville showed good effort in the contest but ultimately could not contain Mountaineer force, Zach Kleine.
Kleine scored 26 points and tallied 11 rebounds. Maybe more important than Kleine's points was when he scored them. For instance in the first quarter, Cassville had taken a brief lead 6-4 when Kleine scored 11 straight points for his squad.
The sophomore also scored 12 points in a decisive third quarter that helped Mt. Vernon build its biggest lead, one that the Wildcats could not overcome.
After Cassville's brief lead in the first, Mt. Vernon finished the frame on a 12-point run that gave them a 16-6 advantage.
The Wildcats then completed possibly their best quarter, outscoring Mt. Vernon 6-2 in the second.
The Mountaineers pulled off runs of 9-3 and 7-2 in the third that helped them secure a comfortable lead.
Cassville's offense was not prolific on the evening, but it fit their game plan. The Wildcats slowed the game down in hopes of giving Kleine no easy shots in transition.
Howard led Cassville on the evening. He scored 14 points, including four three-point goals, and had three steals.
Others scoring for Cassville were Reed 5, Rose 4, Henry 4, Haynes 3 and Couch 1.
The Wildcats are now 5-10 overall and have won four of their last seven contests.
They will continue play in the Spokane Tournament this week facing first-seeded Spokane on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Cassville junior varsity squad went 1-1 this week. The team defeated Lamar 45-30 but lost to Mt. Vernon 33-35.
Against Lamar, the Wildcats started quickly from both breaks. Cassville began the game with a 13-4 first quarter and outscored their opponent 14-8 in the third quarter to help secure the win.
Ryan Pace and Nashe Lugeanbeal led the team with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Against Mt. Vernon, the squad was sluggish to begin and trailed 8-18 at half. The Wildcats woke up in the second half and cut into the lead to give them a shot at a win.
A half-court shot by Lugeanbeal in the final seconds rimmed out and the Wildcats fell 33-35.
Pace led scoring in the contest with 10.
The JV squad is now 5-4 on the season.