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.