By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Nixa Eagles didn’t forget.
They didn’t forget last season’s road loss at Joplin, in which they blew a double-digit lead in the second half and lost at the buzzer.
And they certainly didn’t forget Tuesday night’s frustrating road loss at cross-county rival Ozark, where they fell short despite a 44-point fourth quarter.
Friday night, Nixa unleashed some pent-up frustration.
Guard Josh Mason (16) and forward Jason Jones (14) combined for 30 points as Nixa dismantled Joplin 69-39 on its homecoming night.
“It really frustrated us at Ozark the other night,” Mason said of the 84-79 loss. Nixa trailed by 16 entering the fourth. “In the fourth quarter, we came out and everyone was flying around on offense. Nobody was thinking about making a mistake or anything. Everyone was shooting well.
“We just carried that over to tonight. We weren’t worrying. We were playing within the offense. Just doing what we do. And playing fast.”
Nixa also had payback on its mind. In last season’s meeting, Joplin rallied from a 16-point deficit and won 56-54 on a buzzer-beating layup.
“Sometimes it’s good not to forget things,” said Nixa coach Jay Osborne.
Friday night’s conference rematch was never in doubt after the first quarter.
Nixa outscored Joplin 25-6 in the second quarter – including a 13-0 run at the end – and led 44-18 at halftime.
Ten players scored for Nixa (15-6 overall, 3-1 Central Ozark Conference).
“I was real proud of our effort,” Osborne said. “I thought we shared the basketball. I thought we rebounded and guarded well tonight, too. It was a good night for the Nixa Eagles.”
Nixa poured it on in the third quarter. Treys from Mason, Kaleb Wofford and TJ Sorgenfrei, plus a two-handed dunk from 6’6” sophomore pushed Colten Berry put Nixa ahead by 40 at one point.
“We played with a purpose tonight,” Osborne said. “We played with some passion. And it helps to make shots.”
Nixa pulled its starters late in the third and played with the turbo clock in effect during the fourth.
Nixa held Joplin to its second-lowest point total of the season. Joplin (14-5 overall, 3-1 COC) had won six straight entering the night with only one loss coming to a local team (Nevada).
Osborne said his team was ready to redeem itself after Tuesday night’s loss to Ozark.
“Tuesday night was embarrassing for a lot of us,” Osborne said. “No disrespect to Ozark, but it was a little embarrassing how our effort was. Effort tonight was a lot better.”
Mason, a 6’2” guard, scored 16 including a couple of stare-down 3-pointers against smaller defenders.
“I was feeling it for sure,” Mason said. “I got a couple of switches on me – some shorter defenders – and I pulled up on them and shots were falling. So I kept shooting.”
Osborne praised another part of Mason’s game.
“The great thing I thought he did, especially in the second half, was make some excellent passes,” Osborne said. “He got his teammates involved.
Nixa hits the road next week for games at Branson (Feb. 11) and Webb City (Feb. 14).
Joplin has home games against Ozark (Feb. 11) and Republic (Feb. 14).
Nixa 69, Joplin 39
Joplin 12 6 13 8 — 39
Nixa 19 25 22 3 — 69
Joplin (14-5 overall) – Zach Westmoreland 15, Always Wright 8, Dakarai Allen 6, Isaiah Davis 5, Isaac Meeks 2, Will Rader 2, Blake Tash 1
Nixa (15-6 overall) – Josh Mason 16, Jason Jones 14, Kaleb Wofford 9, TJ Sorgenfrei 6, Colin Ruffin 5, Kael Combs 5, Aaron Engleman 4, Tanner Collard 4, Colten Berry 4, Evann Long 2