"I was worried about Trey Rose's conditioning going into this game," said Cassville's Danny Powers. "But he had no trouble staying on the floor."
The senior point guard, playing in only his second game of the season, directed a Cassville offense that was effective and productive. With Rose running the point, the Wildcats committed fewer turnovers and converted more scoring opportunities.
They were also adept at hitting free throws.
There was no need for the usual halftime free-throw contest, as the Wildcats held one of their own for the entire first half. Only a Bernie Madoff hearing could muster more whistle blowing, and Cassville took full advantage.
The Wildcats hit nine of 10 free-throw attempts in a closely-called first quarter then drained 13 of 17 from the line in the second period. Only four of Cassville's 18 points in the second quarter came from the field in a game that grew increasingly chippy on the floor.
With the free-throw frenzy came foul troubles. Lamar featured a deeper and taller bench, so there was great concern when both Joel Maher and Ethan Lowery picked up three fouls with over four minutes remaining in the first half.
But Powers' team hit its stride in the third quarter. After seeing the lead grow to 10 points, Lamar struggled to hang on and clawed back to trail by only 37-29. But Maher threw in a long trey from between the circles, and then Ricky Nichols found Maher with a rainbow lob for an inside hoop to push the lead to 40-29.
The Wildcats reached the final break with a 49-38 lead. Lamar could not answer in a fourth quarter that saw Cassville's lead reach as many as 20 points. John Cavness scored the final points of the night with yet another pair of free throws as the Wildcats earned a 70-51 win.
Powers praised his team for its resiliency after a tough loss at Mt. Vernon on Tuesday. The return of Rose to the lineup provided an obvious lift for the squad.
"With Trey Rose, we have the flexibility to go big with Joel Maher, John Cavness and Ethan Lowery, or to go small with Trey, Ricky Nichols and Garrett Kirk," said Powers. "It completely changes our match-up ability."
The first conference win of the season gives Cassville a 6-8 overall record and a 1-2 mark in the Big 8. The Wildcats will go on the road for the Spokane and Bolivar tournaments in the next two weeks.
"This will be a good chance for our kids to see how they can handle the adversity of playing on the road," said Powers. "When you start talking about district play and beyond, you have to be able to win away from home."
Cassville scorers: Joel Maher, 19; Ricky Nichols, 18; Garrett Kirk, 11; Trey Rose, 7; Ethan Lowery, 7; John Cavness, 5; and Logan Scott, 3.
Lamar scorers: Josh Garfield, 11; Sam Bailey, 9; Jared Beshore, 8; Levi Petersen, 7; Chad Rice, 6; Tripp Tucker, 3; Isaac Garris, 3; Markell White, 2; and Jacob Haskins, 2.