Wildcats are on a roll
The Cassville Wildcats are on a roll. Danny Powers' club went on the road and defeated East Newton 44-39 on Friday night to claim their eighth win in their last 10 outings. Since losing back-to-back games against Carl Junction and Mt. Vernon in early January, the Wildcats have hit their stride just in time for district tournament play.
After downing Aurora on Tuesday, 54-44, behind a 22-point outburst from Ricky Nichols, Cassville never trailed against East Newton. The Patriots forged three ties, the last coming at 20-20 in the closing minutes of the first half.
Joel Maher scored four times in the paint in the opening quarter to propel the Wildcats to a 13-10 lead at the first break. Then Garrett Kirk scored 6 points in the second period, and Trey Rose broke the last tie with a free throw to give Cassville a 21-20 lead at intermission.
The Wildcats ramped up the defense in the second half. The Patriots only managed 7 points in the third quarter, just one more than Ricky Nichols scored in that period. Leading 32-27 at the final break, the Wildcats held East Newton scoreless for nearly six minutes in the fourth quarter before Tucker Anderson's free throw dusted the cobwebs off the rim at that end.
Anderson's freebie ended a 5-0 Cassville run that produced the only double digit lead of the game at 37-27. While Anderson led all scorers with 27 points, he didn't get enough support to upset the Wildcats.
The teams combined to shoot 33 free throws in the final period alone. The Patriots connected on 10 of their 18 attempts in that time frame. Cassville allowed their hosts to crawl back into the game by hitting only six of their 15 fourth quarter attempts from the line.
While East Newton cut the lead to 38-35 with a minute to play, the Patriots could get no closer. Cassville went on to claim the 44-39 victory.
Cassville scorers: Joel Maher, 13; Ricky Nichols, 13; Garrett Kirk, 11; and Trey Rose, 7.
East Newton scorers: Tucker Anderson, 27; Sam Swartz, 6; Jaron McCully, 2; Colby Thomas, 2; and Bryce Zimmerman, 2.
The Wildcats, with a current record of 12-11, will conclude the regular season on Friday night, when they host the Seneca Indians. Cassville will be the #2 seed when Class 4 District 12 play begins at Carl Junction next week. The Wildcats will face either McDonald County or Aurora on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.