Wildcats hold off Mustangs 57-51

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Whistle blows Chuck Nickle Photography Wildcat Garrett Kirk drives the baseline and is fouled by a Lamar player. Cassville earned a 57-51 win over the visiting Tigers.

The Cassville Wildcats held their turnovers in check and held off a motivated McDonald County team on Thursday night, 57-51. Cassville played without John Cavness, but with Joel Maher putting in 26 points, the Wildcats still had enough firepower to hold off the visiting Mustangs.

Despite their mostly losing record, the Mustangs have a reputation for tenacity. McDonald County has speed and quickness at both guard positions and can cause match-up problems for most teams in the backcourt.

Although the Wildcats never trailed in this game, they never had it easy. The first half margin never exceeded 6 points, and McDonald County battled back to trail by only 27-25 at halftime.

The Mustangs tied the game at 9-9 late in the initial period, but Maher scored 6 points in the last 2:24 of the quarter as Cassville opened a 15-11 lead.

McDonald County forced ties at 31-31 and 33-33 in the third quarter, but the Wildcats pushed to a 43-37 gap at the final break. Maher went on a tear late in the period, scoring 7 points in 49 seconds to give the 'Cats a brief 8-point lead.

Ricky Nichols opened the fourth quarter with a bomb from the left wing to open a 46-37 advantage. The teams scored 14 points apiece in the last eight minutes for the 57-51 final.

From Trey Rose's three-pointer that started the game to Maher's free throws that finished the scoring, the Wildcats showed the ability to protect the basketball and execute a conservative game plan.

"Our focus has been on taking care of the ball and minimizing turnovers," said Cassville's Danny Powers.

Powers' insistence on limiting turnovers has made a huge difference in the development of this team over the season.

Cassville improved to 11-10 with the win and will play at East Newton on Friday night.

Cassville scorers: Joel Maher, 26; Ricky Nichols, 14; Garrett Kirk, 9; and Trey Rose, 8.

McDonald County scorers: Miguel Morales, 18; Jordan Wells, 10; Chance Buttram, 9; Pablo Alvarez, 5; Cooper Dill, 3; Drey Fickle, 2; Andrew Nicoletti, 2; and Tyrel Lett, 2.

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