Neosho girls set to play for third place in tourney

Dec. 30—NEOSHO, Mo. — Turnovers and cold shooting ailed the Neosho girls basketball team in a 39-17 setback to North Kansas City on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the Neosho Holiday Classic at Neosho Junior High School.

The Wildcats (5-6) still have a chance to finish strong as they will play St. Joseph Lafayette at 2 p.m. Thursday for third place at Neosho High School. St. Joseph Lafayette fell to Ft. Smith Northside 47-19 in the other semifinal game.

"Any coach will tell you if you get two wins in a tournament, that's great," Neosho coach Ryan Madison said. "Last year, we were fortunate enough to do that most of the time. In our first tournament this year, we only got one. Again, here we are. We didn't get this one, but we can win again.

"Hopefully, the kids come out with some pride. It's our tournament. We get to play in the big gym. We should have a great atmosphere, great crowd. We'll be looking to rebound from this one."

Neosho hung tough with the Hornets in the early part of Wednesday's action, but the second half proved to be the difference.

North Kansas City opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 23-10 advantage with just a few minutes to play in the frame. That stretch of basketball was sparked by Kennady Washington with a mid-range jumper and a pair of freebies, while Kylee Estes broke away for a transition layup off a Neosho turnover.

Yar Manyiel then finished inside with a lay-in off a dropstep to give the Hornets a 20-10 lead with 3:14 to play in the third quarter. Hailey Black capped the run with a jumper from the free throw line to extend North Kansas City's lead out to 22-10.

The Wildcats trimmed the deficit to 10 once in the fourth quarter, but the athletic and quick Hornets finished the game on a 9-0 run.

Neosho made just 19% of its shots to North Kansas City's 40%. The Wildcats' committed 30 turnovers.

"We knew we were going to get pressured a little bit," Madison said. "We knew they were going to get out on us. They are more athletic than us. We just didn't execute our game plan very well. We tried to run a few quick hitters, but we didn't run them correctly.

"We had chances to get some backdoor cuts. We didn't run stuff right. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. I think some of that is just youth. Most of the people that handled the ball last year are not here. I think we'll get better."

Perhaps the silver lining for Neosho was the first half. The Wildcats were deadlocked at 7-7 after the first quarter and Raine Harris finished a layup to trim the deficit to 13-10 just before halftime.

Another positive was Neosho out-rebounded North Kansas City 25-21.

"Our kids battled," Madison said. "They defended pretty well. I was scared to death rebounding wise, but really in the first half, we handled it pretty well. I'd say the last two to three weeks we have done a better job on the boards. Hopefully, we can continue to do that."

LaNicia Parker captured game honors with 14 points for the Hornets (4-3). She hit 7 of 12 shots from the floor and collected eight steals to go with four rebounds.

The Wildcats' were paced by Maelynn Garrett with four points. She tallied three rebounds as well.

North Kansas City and Ft. Smith Northside will face off at 5 p.m. Thursday for the championship at NHS.