Low-scoring defensive battles were the theme at Thursday night’s Class 4, District 12 boys’ and girls’ semifinals in Carthage.
On the girls’ side, Carl Junction cruised to victory over Cassville in the opening game. Carthage then outlasted Webb City for its second close victory over the Cardinals this season.
In the boys’ games, top seed Webb City dodged an upset bid by Carthage. In the nightcap, Monett senior Logan Coones made big free throws down the stretch to help the Cubs knock off No. 2 seed McDonald County.
The finals are set for this Saturday in Carthage, with the Carl Junction girls facing Carthage at 6 p.m. and the Webb City boys battling Monett at 7:30 p.m.
Here’s a rundown of Thursday’s action.
Coones seals Monett victory
The game was hanging in the balance, but Monett had the right guy at the right place. As in, Logan Coones at the free throw line.
Coones delivered by going 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 40 seconds as Monett knocked off No. 2 seed and undefeated Big 8 regular season champion McDonald County, 47-44.
“(Coones) spends hours in the gym shooting and working on his craft,” said Monett coach Jeremy Land. “That’s the guy we want on the line, nobody else. Ice (water) in his veins. I’m proud of him, proud of our team.”
Coones’ final two free throws gave the Cubs a 47-44 lead with 7.8 seconds remaining. McDonald County brought the ball across the court and Monett, with a foul to give, committed its sixth team foul with 4.4 seconds remaining.
A last-second Mustangs’ 3-pointer was off the mark, giving McDonald County just its sixth loss of the season but second one to Monett.
The Mustangs entered the game 21-5 overall and had beaten Monett by 28 at home on Jan. 12 in a Big 8 meeting. Monett beat McDonald County 57-54 in the title game of the Carthage Invitational in early December.
“Defensively, we played much better this time,” Land said. “We did some things different defensively than we showed the first two times. We rebounded well tonight and then we were patient offensively tonight, which got us good looks.”
Trailing 43-38 with under a minute to go, the Mustangs cut the deficit to two points on a trey by senior Daton Aubrey. Coones answered with two free throws that pushed the Cubs’ lead to 45-41 with 29 seconds remaining.
On McDonald County’s next possession, senior Max Dill hit a step-back 3-pointer to bring the Mustangs within one point at 45-44. Coones would again make two free throws to give the Cubs some insurance.
The Cubs (19-8 overall) also got a big game from senior Kobe Besch, who scored a team-high 14 and made four 3-pointers.
“He’s been struggling shooting-wise some, so that was good to see him do that,” Land said. “That’s good moving forward for us.”
Dill scored 16 and Kole Keith added 12 points for the Mustangs, who graduate a strong senior class. All five players that scored in the game for McDonald County are seniors. The Mustangs lost by 16 to Carthage in the district finals last season.
The outcome marks the fourth time in five seasons that a 3-seed from this district tournament has advanced to the championship game. The three previous No. 3 seeds – McDonald County (2012), Carl Junction (2013) and Carthage (2015) – ended up winning the district.
Monett won the Carthage Invitational in early December as a 3-seed.
“Hopefully that luck continues,” Land said.
In the other boys’ game, Webb City got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Payton Guiot to lead Carthage by three at halftime. The Cardinals led the entire second half on their way to a 46-41 win, despite Carthage staying within single digits for the duration of the final two quarters.
Guiot scored 14 to lead Webb City (19-6 overall). Garrett McAtee (14) and Alex Derryberry (12) combined for 26 points to lead Carthage, who finishes 11-16 overall.
Monett 47, McDonald County 44
Monett 12 5 15 15 — 47
McDonald County 6 19 4 15 — 44
Monett – Kobe Besch 14, Logan Coones 11, Alex Turner 10, Cameron Witt 6, Jonah Paszek 4, Blake Moore 2
McDonald County – Max Dill 16, Kole Keith 12, Daton Aubrey 7, Dagan Stites 5, Drew Harmon 4
Webb City 46, Carthage 41
Carthage 7 11 10 13 — 41
Webb City 7 14 14 11 — 36
Carthage – Garrett McAtee 14, Alex Derryberry 12, Arkell Smith 8, Taylor Emery 3, Brett Fullerton 2, Ethan Thomas 2
Webb City – Payton Guiot 14, Kaden Roy 9, Zachary Davidson 8, Tatum Smith 6, Preston Ellis 5, Trey Gibson 4
Carthage girls win physical battle, 52-45
In a game that surely left players from both teams with bumps and bruises, Carthage out-muscled Webb City to post its second close victory against the Cardinals this season and advance to Saturday’s district title game.
The Tigers got a big game from senior and Pittsburg State commit Maya Williams, who finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Most importantly, in a game where Webb City committed 25 fouls and had three players foul out, Williams was 13-for-14 at the free throw line.
A power forward of sorts for Carthage, Williams has guard-like ball-handling abilities and isn’t afraid to attack the basket.
“She’s a special player,” said Carthage coach Chad Jones. “She can play on the perimeter as well as inside. We felt like, tonight, there was an opportunity for her to get to the rim more. We emphasized that in practice and kind of set the game plan toward that.”
A fastbreak layup by Carthage junior Kenya Medlock put the Tigers up 43-34 with under five minutes remaining, but Webb City would mount one final comeback.
Consecutive treys by Madeline Hayes brought the Cardinals within 46-41 at the 2:50 mark. Later, after Carthage missed a layup and 3-pointer on its end, Webb City had a chance to tie the game 48-all but couldn’t find the bottom of the net on a 3-point attempt.
Williams grabbed the rebound on the miss and converted two free throws to put Carthage (15-9 overall) up 50-45 with 49 seconds remaining. Carthage beat Webb City at home, 49-46, on Feb. 15.
“We had to show a lot in the first game to get the win. We felt like they had to show a lot of stuff, too,” Jones said. “We felt like there wasn’t much left on the table, we knew it was going to be another close battle since we’ve seen one another’s stuff. It played out the same.”
Kensey Sageser had 12 points and 8 rebounds for Carthage. Medlock finished with 15 points.
In the other girls game, top seed Carl Junction (24-2 overall) handled Cassville (14-13 overall) from the start, leading by 14 after the first quarter on its way to a 57-28 victory.
Skylar Sadler led three Bulldog players in double figures with 18 points.
Carthage 52, Webb City 45
Webb City 10 12 7 16 — 45
Carthage 14 9 10 19 — 52
Webb City – Cami Roy 10, Kaylee Beres 8, Lindey Kneib 7, Lexey Kneib 7, Katy Crane 6, Madeline Hayes 6, Addie Darby 1
Carthage – Maya Williams 21, Kenya Medlock 15, Kensey Sageser 12, Megan Taylor 3, Emma Charleston 1
Carl Junction 57, Cassville 28
Cassville 9 8 9 2 — 28
Carl Junction 23 10 15 9 — 57
Cassville – Hallie Long 13, Madi Stokes 6, Kandace Wallace 6, Macey Parsons 3
Carl Junction – Skylar Sadler 18, Lauren Walker 10, Alex Vogt 10, Lindsey Showalter 9, Megan Scott 6, Emma Frack 3, Katelyn Bebee 1