Slow starts in the second half have plagued the Carthage boys basketball team often this season, and it was a problem again on Tuesday night as visiting Ozark opened the third quarter with a 14-3 run and defeated the Tigers 73-50.
Carthage trailed by only seven points at halftime, but Ozark's lead doubled in a hurry when Nick Cookinham scored, Brett Krisik made two free throws and Korbin Evans made a three pointer, all within the first 74 seconds.
"We have been bad out of the locker room at halftime," Carthage head coach Steve Ray said. "I don't know what it is. Defensively, we just had a couple breakdowns and they really made us pay for them. We've got to find a way to come out at halftime. We always talk about the rule of eight. Eight points is kind of getting in the danger zone. They got it to double figures in a hurry, and that's asking a lot for a team that's struggling to score. We've just got to keep working at it."
The Tigers opened the game in strong fashion, scoring the first six points and holding Ozark scoreless for more than four minutes. A three pointer by Noah Nelson brought the visitors within a point, but junior Jaryd Coss made a free throw, senior Dawson Allmoslecher connected from beyond the arc and senior Nathan Reid's bucket with 57 seconds left in the first gave the Tigers a 12-5 advantage.
Krisik scored with 14 seconds left in the quarter, starting a 10-0 Ozark run haulted when Carthage senior Johnathan Terry scored at the 6:23 mark to pull the Tigers back to within a point. Reid scored 33 seconds later, giving Carthage a 16-15 lead, and Reid's alley-oop dunk on an assist by Allmoslecher made it 18-17 Carthage with 3:37 left in the half.
That was the last time Carthage would lead, though.
Ozark hit two three pointers in the final 2:29 of the half and took a nine-point lead before Coss grabbed an offensive rebound and scored at the buzzer, sending the teams to the locker rooms with Ozark leading 30-23.
Ozark's shooting from three-point range continued to haunt Carthage in the second half. After Ozark made five shots from long range in the entire first half, the visitors made five alone in the third quarter and scored seven points in a row to open the half, taking a 37-23 lead.
A three pointer by Reid with 2:14 left in the quarter brought Carthage within 44-29, but Ozark answered with two three's in a row and then closed out the third with a three pointer at the buzzer to take a 53-23 lead.
"They're dangerous," Ray said. "We talked about it yesterday in practice and today in walkthrough. They're a hard team to guard because they're physical and they can post up, any of their five guys, and they can also spread you out and shoot it. For our younger guys I think it's great to see because from a skill standpoint that's the kind of team we want to be. We just have not shot the ball well at all recently. I don't feel like we took a lot of bad shots, but we've got to figure out a way to start making shots. I know they're trying, maybe they're trying too hard. The effort's there. Ozark's a good team. I thought they just got better as the game went on. We played well at the beginning, we just couldn't sustain."
Page 2 of 2 - Reid led the Tigers with 18 points, and Allmoslecher added 15. Junior Cory Prevost had six points, Terry scored four, and junior Anthony Turk and Coss had three points apiece.
Cookinham had 20 points for Ozark, Nelson and Clanton scored 12 apiece and Evans had 11.
Carthage will host the Class 4, District 12 basketball tournament next week. Carthage, the fourth seed, takes on fifth-seed Monett at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with the winner advancing to take on top-seeded Nevada at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28.
"A new season starts tomorrow," Ray said. "Everybody goes back to 0-0. I'm just hoping we get some energy from that. I don't know if you can really feel good going into the district tournament 9-17, but I just know these guys have a lot of fight. They haven't quit all year; they're not going to quit this last week. I think we'll be okay."
Ozark won Tuesday's junior varsity game 74-41. D'Angelo Poole led the Tigers with 13 points, Jesse Martini had nine and Josh Barrett scored eight.