Carthage stymies Republic in second quarter, wins 60-41

Feb. 2—CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage held Republic to one made basket in the second quarter and just 2 points on the way to a 60-41 victory on Friday night at Carthage High School.

In that same quarter, the home Tigers exploded for 22 points to take a 31-20 advantage into halftime.

"For them to score 18 in the first and then finish with 41, that's really big," Carthage head coach Nathan Morris said. "That stretch in the second quarter where Justin (Ray) and Landon (Ray) hit some shots helped us to stretch it out a little bit. Any lead against a Republic team is big because they're so patient offensively and defensively and you get very limited possessions."

Carthage (12-6) couldn't get much going offensively in the first quarter as it trailed 18-9 after eight minutes of play. Senior leader Justin Ray had 7 of those 9 points too.

Ray started the scoring for Carthage with a stepback jumper along the baseline to tie the game at 2. He later drilled a 3-pointer to get the score a little closer at 12-7. He added the team's last basket to make it 16-9.

The Tigers scored the first 14 points of the second quarter on four 3-pointers from Trent Yates and Ray — two apiece — and a layup from Kruz Castor. The final 8 came from the Ray brothers as Landon, a sophomore, made a triple and Justin scored 5 more.

The older Ray's fourth and final trey came at the very end of the first half. Ray got the ball handed to him near half-court and toward the right side of the floor with eight seconds left on the clock. He dribbled to the center of the big "C" logo around half-court and stepped up just in front of the logo at the 10-foot volleyball standard and buried the shot to make it 31-20 at halftime.

That may not have been the most impressive 3-pointer of the night for Ray. He made one earlier in the quarter as he came off of a screen on the right wing in front of Republic's bench. But as he caught the ball he had a defender closing in and had to fire it up quickly. Ray was falling toward the out of bounds line and away from the basket but the shot hit nothing but net.

"They were falling tonight, and I'm glad my teammates got me open for them and my coaches trusted me to make those shots," Ray said.

The game moved quickly in the first quarter as neither team fouled a single time and there was only one timeout taken. The second quarter was similar as Carthage went on its run and Republic head coach Tim Brown didn't take a timeout despite the lopsided quarter.

"I think coach Brown was a little frustrated. I think there were four total fouls in the first half. Two physical basketball teams and how big and strong they are, that was pretty shocking," Morris said. "We got a couple of loose ball calls that they (Republic) weren't happy with and we were able to capitalize on the other end."

Republic (12-8) cut the lead to single digits early in the third quarter at 34-25 when Jordan Douglas made a 3-pointer. That was Douglas' only basket of the game, and coach Morris talked about the difference that made in the game.

"It really started with Kruz Castor tonight," Morris said. "The best defensive performance of his career. To shut down a kid like Jordan Douglas is huge and phenomenal for Kruz."

The visiting Tigers never got it back to single digits as Taylor Stevens-Diggs made 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled to get the lead back to 10. And then a turnover by Republic gave Stevens-Diggs a chance to race up floor and catch a pass from a teammate for a breakaway layup to make it 37-25.

The lead was cut back to 10 on a 3-pointer from James Rexroat, and Republic's coach Brown took a timeout at that point with 2:26 left in the third quarter and trailing 41-31.

The scoring slowed down in the second half, and Carthage continued to use its defense to maintain that lead.

"We told our guys that there would be even fewer possessions in the second half," Morris said. "Each possession truly had to count and find the best shot. And they did that. They took it to heart and trusted what we wanted them to accomplish."

The score was 43-33 heading into the fourth quarter, and Republic was held to just 7 points in the final frame.

"I think it's just a testament to our coaches," Ray said of the double-digit victory. "Our coaches have trust in us to take care of the ball and control the pace of the game when we're winning, and I think we did a good job tonight."


This is Carthage's first win over Republic since 2009 when the Central Ozark Conference first began.

"For our kids to put that notch in their belt is huge," Morris said. "Everyone was disappointed by our performance Tuesday at Webb City, so to bounce back on Friday like that is huge."


Justin Ray surpassed 1,000 career points on Jan. 9 against Joplin and became the all-time leader in 3-pointers made for a Tiger earlier this season. The leader before Ray was Joel Pugh, who graduated two years ago and is in his second season at Ozark Christian College.

The senior is up around the 200 mark now and passed Pugh's mark of 183.

Ray talked about the ability to accomplish those things in his career.

"I watched all those guys before me hit 1,000 points, and I played with Joel (Pugh) whenever he broke the record, so it's just a fantastic feeling to be able to do it myself. I know how much work I put in and how much work my teammates win so I think it's an accomplishment not just for me but for the team."


Carthage returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as it hosts Carl Junction. The Tigers will also head to Ozark on Wednesday night and Nixa on Friday night for a full week of basketball.

"Unfortunately in the COC, they don't stop. ... So not much time to celebrate on this one, but we will enjoy it tonight," Morris said.