The Cassville Wildcats overcame an 8-point deficit and tied Pierce City at halftime, and then went on a 3-point tear in the third quarter to pull away to a 61-48 victory in the first round of the Southwest Holiday Tournament at Washburn on Monday. Trenton Dickinson's sharpshooters nailed eight treys in the game, and Axl Larson poured in 20 points to lead the Wildcats to victory.
Cassville proved it could survive a gut check with the come-from-behind win. The Wildcats went scoreless for over half of the opening period and trailed 6-0 as big Derek Turner led the Eagles to the early advantage.
Turner picked up his second personal foul late in the period, and Pierce City began the second period with their 6' 8" center on the bench.
Evan Stubblefield scored with an offensive tap and added a pair of free throws to start the quarter. Joel Maher whirled and dropped in a soft jumper from the baseline to cut the lead to 23-21 with 5:15 on the clock.
The Eagles took a timeout, then pushed the lead back to seven, with Wayne Joe Sooter providing the layup to make it a 30-23 game.
But Cassville chipped away. Maher buried a trey, then Larson followed his own miss and scored to cut the margin to 32-28. Larson scored again, followed by a Ricky Nichols fast break layup that tied the game at 32-32.
Chance Chapman regained the lead for Pierce city, but Trey Rose found Larson with a fast break assist to tie the game at halftime.
Turner scored the first bucket of the third quarter to put the Eagles back in front, but it would be the last taste of the lead for Pierce City. Three straight bombing missions - two by Larson and one by Maher - shot Cassville ahead, 43-36.
Lewright scored, then Stubblefield hit from the left baseline to open a 50-39 gap. Pierce City's Chapman broke loose for a layup to end the quarter, and Cassville led 50-41 at the final break.
The Wildcats clamped down on defense in the last period, only allowing 7 points. Maher hit his third trey of the night at the 4:16 mark, and Cassville cruised on to the 61-48 victory.
The Wildcats will play the Wheaton Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) at Washburn.
Cassville scorers: Axl Larson, 20; Joel Maher, 11; Evan Stubblefield, 8; Ricky Nichols, 7; Chris Smith, 6; John Cavness, 4; Josh Lewright, 3; and Trey Rose, 2.
Pierce City scorers: Robert Baldwin, 15; Wayne Joe Sooter, 11; Cedric O'Hara, 8; Derek Turner, 8; and Chance Chapman, 6.