WEBB CITY — Basketball is a game of runs and that was definitely apparent during the final three games of the 4-States Challenge at the Cardinal Dome on Saturday.
The Pittsburg boys withstood a pair of Webb City scoring runs, 14-2 and 19-5, and the Purple Dragons' 16-0 run late in the first and early in the second half provided them a 47-32 lead. Pittsburg came out on top for a 64-57 victory.
The Pittsburg girls saw the Webb City Lady Cardinals score the first 19 points in the first, second, and third quarters, but played well enough otherwise to make Webb City sweat out a 51-42 victory.
In the nightcap of eight games, the Frontenac Raiders saw their 36-27 advantage in the third quarter turn into a 56-42 defeat at the hands of the Neosho Wildcats. Neosho outscored Frontenac 29-6 to end the game and it could have been even worse on the Raiders if the Wildcats did not struggle from the stripe.
PITTSBURG BOYS 64-57
Pittsburg made just enough plays both offensively and defensively to come away with the victory, a fact that was certainly not lost on head coach Kiley Roelfs.
"Boy, they just kept battling back and battling back," Roelfs said. "We played very well in stretches. We didn't maintain it long enough and I thought to their kids' credit, they competed very hard and gave themselves a chance to come back in the game. Fortunately, for us, we made enough plays during those stretches to never really give the lead back. One time we gave it back very briefly in the first half, but we got the lead back and gave us that cushion."
A key defensive play late was when Pittsburg senior Trenton Austin stepped in and took a charge against Webb City's Terrell Kabala with the Cardinals looking to cut even more into a three-point game at the time.
"Those plays quieted their momentum enough for us to get a little bit of it back," Roelfs said. "That was a big play at that moment."
Pittsburg sophomore point guard Javon Grant started the game with the Purple Dragons' first nine points with three 3-point baskets and his running 30-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer helped spark that 16-0 run after Webb City briefly took a 32-31 lead.
Grant finished with a game-high 24 points, 19 of which he scored in the first half. Jerek Butcher added 13 points, Brett Wiemers nine, and Austin and Gavyn Elkamil six each.
Alex Gaskill led Webb City with 17 points before fouling out late and Kabala hit for 16 points. Tanner Rogers added 10 more points.
Pittsburg improved to 4-0 on the season and the Purple Dragons return to action Tuesday against longtime rival Fort Scott.
WEBB CITY GIRLS 51-42
Pittsburg dug itself a 33-14 hole by the 6-minute, 51-second mark of the third quarter and the starts to the first three quarters amounted to that 19-point lead for the Lady Cardinals.
Just under a minute in regulation, Pittsburg had made it a 46-40 game.
"I feel like our girls played hard the whole time," Pittsburg head coach Kris Crotts said. "We finally got some shots to fall and early on, it takes a while to get yourself into the ballgame, especially defensively. I felt like we figured out what they were trying to defensively and we cleaned some things up. Our hedges on screens got better, our back side help got better, and we had to clean up some things in transition defense. We started getting back a little more, especially after the first half.
Pittsburg turnovers played a major role in Webb City's hot starts in the first three quarters.
"That's going to be a key for us moving forward," Crotts said. "Not take 2-3 minutes to get used to the game speed and try and get used to what they're doing, and give them such easy baskets early. We've got to settle in a little quicker."
Sophomore guard Madden Petty hit for 21 points to spark Pittsburg and Aubree Beitzinger added nine points, Kaydn Matlock and Zoe Pinamonti four each, and Sophia Pinamonti and Ela Hendrickson two each.
Jaydee Duda led Webb City with 14 points, Keira Jackson added 13, and Madeline Hayes made it three Lady Cardinals in double-digits with her late free throws getting her to 10 points.
Pittsburg dropped to 0-4 overall and looks for its first win Tuesday against Fort Scott.
NEOSHO BOYS 56-42
With 2:16 remaining in the third quarter, Frontenac senior Cooper Cleland's old-fashioned three-point play gave the Raiders a 36-27 lead on their Missouri opponent.
Neosho brought in players like Sam Cook and Quincey Willis, and the Wildcats hit the Raiders with a 10-0 run to finish the third quarter. Cook scored six of those points and Mason Gammons' trifecta at the buzzer gave the Wildcats the lead for good at 37-36 entering the fourth.
Neosho scored the first four points in the fourth and never looked back, and outscored Frontenac 29-6 to end the game.
Blayne Baldwin led the Raiders with 11 points, while Cleland and Hayden Pile finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
A.C. Marion scored a game-high 12 points for the Wildcats and Cole Seward added nine, Cook and Derek Ferguson eight apiece, and Cade Cradduck seven.
Frontenac dropped to 1-3 and the Raiders return to action Wednesday at Riverton.