Mustangs hold off late charge by CHS Wildcats

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Can't stop him Cassville's Ricky Nichols goes up against two McDonald County players to score. The Wildcat senior led his team with 17 points in the loss. Democrat Photo by Jared Lankford

The Cassville Wildcats couldn't make a fourth quarter four-point lead stand, as they fell 56-50 to the McDonald County Mustangs in the semi-finals of the Class 4, District 12 tournament on Thursday.

A sluggish start to the game put the Wildcats in a 18-11 hole after one quarter of play. Cassville battled back in the second period, outperforming the Mustangs 15 to 9 to trail 27-26 at intermission.

Each team came out of the locker room and exchanged baskets on their first two possessions. Ricky Nichols' trey, followed by a Trey Rose layup and another basket by Nichols gave the Wildcats a five-point 37-32 lead forcing a McDonald County timeout.

The Mustangs responded with a 9-0 run to take a 41-37 lead with eight seconds to go in the third. Nichols' 3-pointer at the buzzer trimmed McDonald County's advantage to 41-40.

Cassville opened the fourth period with two quick baskets from Joel Maher and held a 49-45 lead after another Nichols' basket. Not wilting under the intense Wildcat pressure, McDonald County tied the game at 49-49 on Chance Buttram's layup with 1:24 to go in the game.

Cassville then committed back-to-back turnovers, which allowed the Mustangs the opportunity to take the lead. Buttram sunk two free throws with 1:03 remaining to give McDonald County the lead for good.

The Wildcats missed three 3-point attempts in the final 53 seconds, and the Mustangs hit enough free throws at the charity strip to solidify the win.

Scoring for McDonald County were: Miguel Morales, 21; Buttram, 19; Jordan Wells, 10; and Pablo Alvarez, 6.

Scoring for Cassville were: Nichols, 17; Maher, 15; Trey Rose and John Cavness, 7 each; and Garrett Kirk and Ethan Lowrey, 2 apiece.

The Wildcats, under the leadership of first-year coach Danny Powers, finished the season with a 13-12 record.

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