Halfway through the first quarter Monday night, the Carthage girls basketball team was trailing visiting Joplin by a point.
The Tigers finished the quarter with a 9-1 run and never looked back in a 54-30 win against Joplin at Carthage High School.
“Anytime you get a win it’s good,” Carthage head coach Jim Moore said. “I thought the first half we were a little out of synch offensively. You’ve got to give them credit for their defensive pressure. We were forcing some things and not letting our offense come to us.”
Carthage led 12-5 after the first quarter and made it 16-7 on a basket by senior Kaylee Morgan at the 6:01 mark in the second. The Eagles scored on four free throws to pull within five points, but Morgan made a free throw and senior Hannah Blount scored to give the Tigers the 19-11 edge.
Joplin senior Casee Wheeler, one of few offensive bright spots for the Eagles, made two baskets in the final 1:41 to bring her team within four points, but Tigers sophomore Vanessa Pawlak hit two free throws with 6.3 seconds left in the half and Carthage took a 21-15 advantage.
The third quarter was all Carthage.
Junior Chloe’ Shepherd hit two free throws at the beginning of the quarter, which marked the beginning of a 17-3 run for the Tigers, featuring points from Blount, Pawlak, Shepherd and Morgan.
When the third quarter was finally over, Carthage had a 20-point lead, 42-22.
It only got bigger in the final eight minutes. Pawlak connected on two three pointers to give Carthage a 48-24 lead, and it was too much for Joplin to overcome.
“I thought the second half we were making an extra pass and whenever you start making that extra pass and getting everyone involved, things just started to click,” Moore said. “Shots started falling.
“That’s exactly what we talked about at halftime,” he said. “We were switching defenses up on them and trying to give them different looks, but we talked about working the ball and making that extra pass to find the open person.”
The Tigers, now 10-5 on the season, had three players score in double figures. Pawlak had 17, Shepherd scored 13 and Blount finished with 10. Morgan tallied eight, junior Emily Goeken had four and sophomore Leigh Ann Craig scored two.
Joplin was led by Wheeler’s 10 points.