Carr drives Cubs to 3rd win

Friday, December 15, 2017
Monett’s Jackson Spencer puts up a tough shot during the Cubs’ win over Neosho. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

Monett carries momentum into Hollister tonight

A road game at Hollister tonight will give the Monett basketball team (3-2) a chance to win its fourth game of the season.

At first glance, that may not seem so significant — given the fact the hoops campaign is only two weeks old — but for the Cubs, it means the world after a 2016-2017 season where they only won three games.

Cameron Johnson attempts a jump shot during the Cubs’ win over Neosho on Tuesday. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

The play on the court for Monett this year has been improved from last season. For proof, one need not look any further than Tuesday night at Neosho.

Monett jumped out to a hot start and led by as many as 12 points in the first half before settling for a 30-20 halftime advantage.

Gavin Carr scored 13 of his game-high 22 in the first half to set the pace for the Cubs.

“He hit some tough shots tonight, that’s for sure,” said Jeremy Land, Monett coach. “Those shots didn’t fall last Friday and Saturday, but he is a gamer. He was also guarding their best player all night long.”

The Wildcats stayed mostly in a two-three zone and Carr was able to break the zone down off the drive or kick out to Garrett Tharp, who hit five 3-pointers, one shy of his varsity record.

“Garrett had a rough couple of shooting games, but he also battled back,” Land said. “These guys showed me tonight that they could bounce back from a loss and in a game.”

For all the good things the team accomplished in the first half against Neosho, Monett was reminded that a game is four quarters long in the second half, especially in the third period.

Neosho employed a full-court press that sped the Cubs up. Despite pleas and timeouts from the Monett bench to stem the tide, turnovers allowed the Wildcats to take a 37-36 edge into the fourth quarter.

Things turned from bad to worse for the Cubs as they fell behind 45-40 with 6:14 left in regulation.

Monett’s answer came in the form of the duo that helped build the first half lead.

In a span of 35 seconds, Tharp buried a 3-pointer and Carr drove the lane for two more to tie the game.

“We had practiced what we needed to do to win this game,” Carr said. “We executed everything and we got offensive boards. Coach wanted us to guard and attack the basket tonight and that’s what I tried to do.”

Carr said the biggest difference between the team this year and last year’s squad is the confidence they has on the floor.

“We have more confidence overall,” Carr said. “We didn’t have much experience last year and were just learning to get in our roles. I’m more used to the offense now and seeing things develop on the floor. We need to keep a level head and just keep getting better.”

Neosho edged out to a 3-point lead with 2:30 left, but the Cubs halted the rally there.

Monett finished the game on a 15-7 run.

Carr scored 4 straight points, followed by a pair of Zach Blevins free throws and then a dagger 3-pointer by Tharp, giving Monett a 57-51 advantage that effectively sealed the win with 36 seconds left.

“This win is big,” Land said. “We haven’t closed out the last two games we played. There was a point with about four minutes left I said we’ll find out what kind of team we got.

“This was their first home game. They came back and took the lead. I was very proud of the way we responded and this was a big time win for us.”

Scoring for Monett: Carr, 22; Tharp, 19; Cameron Johnson, 8; Jackson Spencer, 6; Zach Blevins, 4; and Alim Miftari, 2.

Scoring for Neosho: Brady Wise, 21; AC Marion,10; Cole Seward, 8; Cade Cradduck, 8; Kaden King, 6; and Yeej Lee, 5.

Tipoff at Hollister is set at 6 p.m.

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