The Waynesville High School Tigers jumped out to an early lead and kept the pressure on to earn a 78-58 win over the Carthage varsity boys’ basketball team Dec. 30 in their final game of the annual Holiday Hoops Tournament held at Rolla High School.
The victory was a welcome end to the tournament for Waynesville, which finished 2-1 following a 44-31 win against Warrensburg and a 37-36 loss to Poplar Bluff.
“Our guys bounced back this afternoon after a tough loss last night,” Chris Pilz, WHS head basketball coach, said following the final game. “We shot the ball with confidence today. We created some easy baskets with our defense. It’s a much easier game when you make baskets.”
Senior Jared Hyatt led Waynesville against Carthage with 20 points, while junior Xay McArthur added 17 points, senior A.J. Martin added 12 points and senior Mike Lewis added 11 points.
Waynesville led 24-9 after the first quarter and held a 44-30 lead at halftime.
The game was a welcome turnaround for the Tigers following their Dec. 29 loss to Poplar Bluff’s Mules. In that game, it was the Tigers who scrambled to keep up as Poplar Bluff jumped out to an early lead. The Tigers outscored the Mules 20-16 in the second half but couldn’t overcome the early deficit. Lewis led WHS in scoring with 12 points against Poplar Bluff, while Hyatt added 10 points.
Waynesville opened the tournament with a strong defensive performance against Warrensburg Dec. 28 at St. James Middle School.
The game was a defensive contest at the start, with each team holding their opponent to less than 10 points after the first quarter. Leading 13-11 at halftime, the WHS team poured on the offense in the second half to outscore their rivals 31-20.
With Warrensburg ranked fifth among 5A high schools in a recent Missouri basketball coaches poll, Waynesville’s 13-point victory was a significant win for Pilz, who credited his players’ work ethic at practices leading up to the contest.
“We had three really good practices (prior to Warrensburg),” Pilz said after the game. “We controlled the ball better tonight, improved our shot selection, and we were able to shut the paint down defensively.”
Up next: Waynesville, with a season record of 3-4, was scheduled to play Tuesday at Sedalia, Missouri. Scores were not available at press time but will be reported in the next issue of the GUIDON. Waynesville is scheduled to travel Friday to Springfield, Missouri, to take on the Vikings at Parkview High School. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In other WHS sports:
The Waynesville High School girls’ varsity basketball team left the annual Pink and White Tournament in Springfield, Missouri, with two wins and two losses, ending with a disappointing 70-33 loss to Republic Dec. 31.
“(We played) four games in four days, and we finished fourth out of 16 teams,” said Brittany Matlock, WHS head coach.
Playing in the White Division of the tournament at Kickapoo High School, Waynesville started the tournament strong Dec. 28 with a 68-63 victory over Buffalo, Missouri. Led by senior guard Naudia Evans, who scored 28 points, and freshman forward Breona Hurd, who scored 28 points, the Lady Tigers took the lead in the second quarter and never looked back.
Waynesville won again the following night, beating the Carthage, Missouri, girls’ varsity team 68-58, again led by Evans, with 33 points, and Hurd, who added 15.
However, fortunes faded for the Lady Tigers in the semi-finals, where the Nixa Lady Eagles won 78-31 by holding Hurd to a mere 11 points and Evans to 10.
“Hurd got into foul trouble early, and they double-teamed Evans,” Matlock said. “We have to respond better to adversity.”
Against Republic, Hurd led WHS with 22 points, while Evans added 11, but they were the only players to score for Waynesville. Comparatively, Republic had points from eight players, including three in double figures.
“Everyone knows Naudia and Bre are our go-to players, but they cannot do it alone,” Matlock said. “We’ve got to do a better job bringing the energy for four quarters on both ends of the floor as a team, even when it’s a challenge.”
Prior to their performance at the Pink and White tourney, the Lady Tigers beat the Poplar Bluff varsity girls’ team 50-17.
Up next: Waynesville, at 6-2, is scheduled to play host to the Jefferson City High School Lady Jays at 7 p.m. Friday in the WHS gym.