The Willard Tigers rebounded after a Tuesday overtime home loss to Branson by going on the road and defeating Springfield Central 68-46 on Friday night.
Willard did not delay in building a big lead in the first quarter, where the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 13-3 in the game’s first six minutes.
Central closed the gap in the second quarter to enter the half trailing by a score of 30-24. The Bulldogs found success with a half-court trap defense which generated a handful of Willard turnovers.
“Us stepping out to an early lead created a situation where two unfamiliar opponents meet up and catch each other by surprise,” said Willard coach Lamont Frazier.
“It’s a lot of those little things that our guys do,” Central coach Armando Johnson said after the contest. “We kept giving them second-chance opportunities in the 3rd quarter even though we were getting to the basket. We didn’t knock down enough free-throws in the first part of the game, and that’s important when you want to establish tempo.”
Johnson praised the defensive play of Tre Robinson (3-for-6, 9 points, 1 steal) in keeping Willard standout junior Chris Kendrix (15 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal) contained after a 31-point Tuesday night. But Central could not find an answer for Willard post Kolbe Kinghorn, who had a game-high 21 points to go with five rebounds.
“We didn’t expect them to be that physical in the first half, but we got it turned around,” Kinghorn said.
“I expect our guys to be able to play in [physical] situations .. because when it’s tournament time the team that can go out and play physical and can play fast is the one that wins it,” Frazier added.
Boxscore Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Willard 13 17 18 20
Central 9 15 11 11
Willard: Kinghorn 21, Kendrix 15, Levi McGinnis 10, Skyler Baker 9, Cainen McGinnis 6, Zakorey Barr 5, Montana Craig 2
Central: Robinson 9, Tavion Neal 9, Bradley Hardin 8, Steven Jones 6, D’Angelo Bedell 5, Landon Shelton 5, Darius Gibbs 4