Carthage girls end McDonald County streak

Jan. 26—ANDERSON, Mo. — The Carthage Tigers girls basketball team combined a stingy defense with hot shooting in the second half to earn a 65-47 win over the McDonald County Mustangs on Friday.

The win ended a Mustang seven-game win streak and gave Carthage its third win in a row.

"I thought we were balanced offensively, and all five of our starters gave us good points," Carthage head coach Scott Moore said. "I think we locked into our defensive game plan for 32 minutes. They (McDonald County) are tough to box out and are very active. We battled for every board and got as many as we could and won it in the end."

The teams played nearly even through the first quarter, with Carthage holding the largest lead of the opening period — 14-8 — off a Lexa Youngblood 3-pointer at 2:45. The Mustangs rallied to come within 3 points to close the opening period down 14-11.

Youngblood hit her second 3-pointer of the game early in the second frame to put the Tigers up 6 at 17-11, and after a Roslynn Huston putback for the Mustangs, McDonald County tightened the game at 17-13 with a little more than seven minutes left in the half.

Carthage (9-10) responded with another trey of the game to go up 20-13. After a McDonald County timeout, Lauren Choate drove the lane for a score and gave the Tigers their largest lead so far — 9 points at 22-13 with 5:04 left.

The Mustangs (14-5) came within 6 at 24-18 with 4:02 left off a Dakota O'Brien drive the the basket, but an Ashlyn Burst free throw and a Maggie Boyd basket put the Tigers up by 9 again at 27-18 with 3:18 left in the half.

The Mustangs outscored Carthage 6-3 to close out the first half, and the Tigers took a 29-24 lead into the locker room.

Junior forward Jaidyn Brunnert exploded for 15 of the Tigers' 21 third-quarter points in a period that saw the Tigers expand their lead to 50-39. Brunnert hit three of her four 3-pointers of the game in the third period, including one from behind the arc in the final seconds that put Carthage up 11 points heading into the final frame.

"It felt really good," Brunnert said of her third-quarter performance. "I struggled the first half, but after that I kind of got into a rhythm and put them down."

Moore talked about the play of his junior forward.

"Jaidyn's a streaky shooter, but when she gets in a rhythm and gets her feet set, she's one of the best shooters on our team. That's rare for someone's fourth player to be one of the top shooters on the team."

After a Mustang score, Choate opened the final period with a trey that gave the Tigers a 53-41 lead. That lead swelled to 17 at 60-43 off of Choate's second 3-pointer of the quarter at 5:29.

McDonald County came within 15 with about 3:30 left, but that was as close as it could come as Carthage went on for the 65-47 win.

Choate earned game-high honors with 23 points, including four 3-pointers, while Brunnert finished with 18. Youngblood chipped in 12 for the Tigers.

Carlie Martin led the Mustangs with 13 points, and Jamie Washam added 12.

Next up for the Tigers is a Tuesday road game at Webb City. McDonald County travels to Monett to face the Cubs on Thursday.