Nixa was sluggish and sloppy against Glendale’s zone defense on Tuesday night, but only for the first eight minutes.
The Eagles heated up in the next two quarters, rolling to an eventual 77-47 victory.
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“Once we got a little more patient, we made some shots and moved the ball a little bit better against that zone,” said Nixa coach Jay Osborne. “We needed to see zone, we don’t see a lot of it.”
Nixa trailed for most of the first quarter until an Austin Ruder 3 and two free throws in the final minute put the game in a 12-all tie.
Early turnovers and a cold shooting start limited Nixa’s high-powered offense.
“When you turn the ball over, it’s tough to get into a rhythm,” Osborne said. “I thought we weren’t able to get the ball in certain spots, we stopped the ball too quickly at times. Against a zone, if you shoot it too quick, it’s what the zone is supposed to make you do.”
Ruder sparked the Eagles in the second quarter, scoring 13 of his game-high 24 as Nixa took a 42-23 lead into halftime. The Missouri State signee hit three 3-pointers during a stretch that saw Nixa extend its lead from 24-16 to 36-18.
“Once (Ruder) started making baskets and getting into the flow, he extended our zone a bit and they started getting into the lane and scoring around the goal,” said Falcons coach Sean Williamson. “Even when he misses, it’s a long rebound. Then it becomes a chase, and that’s a matter of speed, athleticism and some desire. It becomes kind of a mess.”
Nixa was playing without senior Jalen Norman, who missed the game for disciplinary reasons.
Falcons sophomore Garrett Skipworth banked in a 3-pointer from beyond half court at the end of the second quarter.
Nixa continued its surge in the third quarter, outscoring Glendale 25-16 and pushing its lead out big enough to allow reserves to get some extra playing time.
“Right now, we’re not in a position to be able to cover a team like that man-to-man,” Williamson said. “They would isolate us, and we would really struggle. In wouldn’t be because of a lack of effort, we’re just not in a position to play the No. 1 team in the state in Class 5 that way. The zone was an opportunity to cover the lane and help each other out a bit.”
Glendale (2-5) hosts Central this Friday. Nixa (3-0) faces a challenging schedule this weekend, playing Little Rock McClelland on Friday night at the Ozark Mountain Shootout in Branson. The next day, the Eagles travel to Kansas City for the HyVee Shootout to face Blue Valley Northwest, Kansas’ No. 1 ranked team at the 6A level.
Nixa 12 30 25 10 --- 77
Glendale 12 11 16 8 --- 47
Nixa – Austin Ruder 24, Chan Hocklander 12, Athan Lummis 11, Bryce Dunlin 9, Wes Middleton 8, Chris Bettis 6, Jacob Ruder 6, Logan Middleton 1
Glendale – Garret Skipworth 14, Cameron Maes 10, Scott Harned 9, Remington Barbo 7, Nate Nagy 3, Hassan Khan 2, Ryan Hawkins 2