Nixa, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Eagles got back to their winning ways after they prevailed in Friday night’s Central Ozark Conference matchup against Webb City, 76-53.
Nixa used a huge second quarter to pull ahead and stay ahead of the Cardinals. After a sluggish start, the Eagles outscored the Cardinals 20-4 in the second quarter.
“Very slow and lackadaisical start,” said Nixa Head Coach Jay Osborne. “But I thought our second quarter was very good with no turnovers and very good shot selection.”
The Eagles were led by their star senior Austin Ruder. He scored 27 points after starting the game by missing his first four shots.
“The perfect remedy for any shooter is to get to the free throw line,” said Ruder. “After seeing the ball go through the net a couple of times, I started to get a feel for it and started to heat up a bit.”
Ruder’s junior teammate Bryce Dulin helped with 18 points of his own. The Eagles are still without Jalen Norman and Jacob Ruder, Austin’s little brother. Jacob Ruder is the Eagles top rebounder.
“It’s been a trying year with all of the injuries, even with Austin probably only at 70 percent,” said Osborne. “But there’s nothing we can do about it, its apart of the game and we just to cope with it.”
Webb City came out of the gate fast. They scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, which caused Osborne to call a timeout to jump start his team. Webb City led 18-13 after one quarter of play before the Eagles turned it on in the second quarter to take the lead and pull away.
“Our energy finally was there and we just slowed down,” said Ruder about the second quarter. “Once we slowed down, we stopped turning the ball over and started converting.”
The Eagles turned the ball over 11 times throughout the game, with five of those coming in the first quarter. But in the second quarter, they didn’t turn the ball over once. Nixa also outrebounded the Cardinals, 25-16.
“I thought our defensive intensity was a lot better tonight,” said Osborne. “Playing at home like this should get them excited as well.”
Webb City was led by its senior point guard Phoenix Johnson with 19 points. His fellow senior Kohl Slaughter scored 18.
Webb City falls to 16-8 overall and 2-4 in conference. They travel to Neosho on Tuesday before hosting Parsons for senior night.
Nixa improves to 4-2 in conference and 19-5 overall on the season. They host Willard on Tuesday for their last conference game and travel to Logan-Rogersville on Friday to finish their season.
“We’re not looking ahead,” said Osborne. “We were focused on this game and we now turn our focus to Willard.”