By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. – After watching his team play to a two-point halftime lead against unseeded Reeds Spring on Wednesday, Nixa coach Jay Osborne was less than pleased.
“Our defense in the first half was not what we want,” Osborne said. “That’s the nice way of saying it.”
However he put it to his team at halftime, they got the message.
Nixa outscored Reeds Spring 41-15 in the second half, pulling away for a 73-45 Blue Division quarterfinal win at JQH Arena. Wednesday’s victory marked the 10th consecutive season that Nixa advanced to the Blue and Gold Tournament semifinals.
Drew Canady had 28 points and made 7-of-11 3-point shots to pace Nixa. Lane Carroll had 24 points for the Wolves.
“We didn’t come out with effort in the first half,” Canady said. “I think we knew, coming into the game, that wasn’t going to be the hardest game we played. In the second half, we needed to come out with more effort, especially on defense.”
After scoring 17 points in the second quarter alone, Reeds Spring was held to 15 total in the second half. Carroll, who had 17 points in the first half, only scored seven after halftime.
“Sometimes, as a one-seed, … we don’t play as hard as we should,” Osborne said. “We’re dealing with that right now. We’re dealing with some players who, at times, don’t play as hard as they should on the defensive end. That’s our job as a coaching staff, and my job as the head coach, to get that corrected. We’ll get that done, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Reeds Spring (3-6) gave Nixa (7-3) all it wanted in the first-half, shooting 48 percent from the field (11-of-23). They trailed 32-30 at the halftime break.
Nixa scored 14 of the first 18 points in the second half, bolting to a 10-point lead that Reeds Spring couldn’t overcome. Canady caught fire, making 7-of-8 shots in the second half, including 6-of-7 3s.
“It happens,” Canady said. “Everyone’s gonna have their game. It was Kaleb (Wofford) yesterday, me today. It’ll be another player tomorrow. We’ve got four or five guys on the court that can shoot. As soon as we see one of them get hot, we know we’ve got to give them the ball.”
The Eagles shot 68 percent from the field in the second half (15-of-22) and made 6-of-10 3s.
Nixa also got productions from its bench, where Luke Roemen added nine points, Jack Sanders had seven, and Ace Akers—in his first weekend of varsity action—scored six on a pair of 3s.
“I thought Luke and Jack played a great game,” Osborne said. “Jack had a few nice four or five footers off the glass and was under control. Ace hit those two big 3s in the second quarter that gave us a big spark.”
Nixa 73, Reeds Spring 45
NHS 17 15 17 24
RSHS 13 17 6 9
Nixa: Canady 28, Roemen 9, Bilbrey 8, Sanders 7, Akers 6, Combs 5, Wofford 5, Elmer 3, Hartman 2
Reeds Spring: Carroll 24, Huseman 8, Plumb 7, Nordin 4, Foreschle 2