By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 12/3/22

Girls basketball

Mexico girls lose to quick Clopton 61-30 after 1st win

The Mexico girls clinched their first win of the 2022-23 season on Wednesday but had to get refocused quick.

Quick was …

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Girls basketball

Mexico girls lose to quick Clopton 61-30 after 1st win

The Mexico girls clinched their first win of the 2022-23 season on Wednesday but had to get refocused quick.

Quick was the operative term Friday night as No. 3 seed Mexico lost 61-30 to No. 4 Clopton in the consolation championship game in the Montgomery County Basketball Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs finished sixth after losing to Wellsville-Middletown 39-25 on Monday and then defeating North Central Missouri Conference rival Fulton 42-29 two days later.

Clopton (3-1) came away with 14 steals and opened up a 36-17 lead at halftime that gradually grew bigger. Head coach Ed Costley said Mexico (1-3) was having issues with Clopton’s full-court press defense and the skill the Lady Hawks had.

“Their speed was much quicker on the floor, and they’re quicker than us. We know that as a matter of fact,” Costley said. “We knew that was one of the biggest concerns, being able to handle their pressure and their speed.”

Clopton had four girls finish in double figures including Tinleigh Spoonster and Braya Smith each with 13 points and five combined steals, Shana Yates with 12 points and four steals, and Madelyn Brune with 11 points. Lexie Willer led Mexico with eight points and four steals, Claire Hudson followed with five points and two steals, Kenzie Taylor had four points and four rebounds, and Kierstan Epperson had four points off the bench.

Smith knocked down a jumper to make 8-0 Clopton in the first quarter  to force an early Mexico timeout, but the Lady Hawks were just getting started. Willer broke up the run only for Clopton to share the ball effectively on a 9-0 run broken up by Jo Thurman. Yates knocked down her two 3-pointers in the first half while being effective from midrange.

“Even on the defensive end for us, we knew we had some mismatch issues,” Costley said. “They went five guards a few times, and we just weren’t able to guard them. Yates was a big concern, and she was hard to keep out of the paint and she’s good off the dribble.”

Lady Bulldogs open big lead early vs rival Fulton in 42-29 victory

Prior to any North Central Missouri Conference game, Mexico notched a victory against Fulton.

The Lady Bulldogs defeated their rival 42-29 in a consolation bracket game Wednesday during the Montgomery County Basketball Tournament. 

Mexico was led by 11 points from Jo Thurman, Claire Hudson followed with 10 points, Messiah Simpson had eight points and Lexie Willer finished with six points. Thurman knocked down two of Mexico’s four 3-pointers. 

For Fulton, Kier Henderson led with 10 points, hitting two 3-pointers.

Three of Mexico’s makes from beyond the arc helped the Lady Bulldogs build an 18-4 lead after one quarter prior to Mexico leading 30-14 at halftime and 35-21 after the third quarter.

Lady Trojans continue to win in effort, defeat Mark Twain 56-24

The Community R-6 girls are starting to play with the right amount of effort.

The Lady Trojans won 56-24 on Friday night at Mark Twain, winning the rebounding battle and forcing the Lady Tigers into turnovers. 

Sarah Angel led with 22 points, five steals and four assists, Olivia Kuda followed with 19 points and eight rebounds, and Alyssa Beamer added four points.

“I felt like this team is really starting to understand what we want effort-wise on the defensive end,” head coach Bob Curtis said. “Our deflections and steals are up along with winning the rebounding war in our first three contests of the season.”

Community was ahead 30-5 at halftime and 40-17 after the third quarter, limiting Mark Twain to single-digit scoring in three quarters.

Shooting struggles sink North Callaway girls to 46-32 loss at Silex

It wasn’t the way the North Callaway girls wanted to start their Eastern Missouri Conference schedule.

The Ladybirds lost 46-32 at Silex on Thursday night after shooting 17 percent from the field and going 1-for-16 from 3-point territory. 

Ellie Bedsworth and Lakyn Hartley each led North Callaway (1-2, 0-1 EMO) with six points. Sara Grateke led Silex (2-1, 1-0 EMO) with 17 points.

After one quarter, the Ladybirds were knotted at 11 with Silex but fell into hole they couldn’t surmount as the Lady Owls outscored them 21-8 in the second quarter. North Callaway bounced back with a 10-4 third quarter, but it was too late.

North Callaway faces Harrisburg (3-0),  who received votes in the first state Class 2 poll, at 6 p.m. Monday in the first round of the Centralia Invitational.

Centralia girls dominate Marshall 63-23

From the opening tip Thursday night, the Centralia girls were in control.

The Lady Panthers defeated Marshall 63-23 at home, opening the game by outscoring the Lady Owls 21-3 in the first quarter and leading 37-6 at halftime.

Centralia (2-1) kept Marshall (2-2) to single digits in each of the first three quarters before winning the fourth quarter by a 14-11 margin.

Morgan Ross led with 20 points, Braylin Brunkhorst followed with 13 points, and Raegan Anderson and Shelby Lewis rounded out the Lady Panthers in double figures with 10 points each.

Centralia opened its home tournament, the Centralia Invitational, on Monday by facing Van-Far (1-2), who lost 54-33 at home on Thursday.

Van-Far girls drop EMO opener 54-33 to Louisiana

The Van-Far girls didn’t have the offense to take its Eastern Missouri Conference opener Thursday night.

The Lady Indians lost 54-33 to Louisiana (1-1, 1-0 EMO) at home despite 23 points and six rebounds by Mara Jensen. Carmen Wilburn followed with eight points and five assists, and McKenna Engh-Hoffman grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

After it participates in the Centralia Invitational Tournament this week, Van-Far (1-2, 0-1 EMO) plays its next conference game Monday at North Callaway (0-1 EMO).

Boys basketball

North Callaway boys strong at all defensive levels in 55-24 win at Silex

From top to bottom, the North Callaway boys made it tough for Silex to score Friday night.

The Thunderbirds earned their first win of the season in their Eastern Missouri Conference opener at Silex, defeating the Owls 55-24. North Callaway held Silex to single digits in three quarters.

Sam Pezold led North Callaway (1-1, 1-0 EMO) with 18 points, Isiah Craighead followed with 12 points, Braydn O’Neal had seven points, seven steals and four assists, and Trenton Jones grabbed seven rebounds.

After not defending well in its 65-42 season-opening loss Tuesday at Centralia, head coach Matt Miller said North Callaway was much stronger on the defensive end Friday against Silex (2-2, 0-1 EMO, emphasizing the Thunderbirds maintained that level of play for the full 32 minutes.

“It was a great defensive effort by everybody,” Miller said. “Our defense starts with Braydn. He’s just a great all-ball defender and plays great defense without fouling. I thought this was Sam Pezold’s best defensive game of his career. I know he scored 18 points, so that’s what shows up, but he played just as good on defense as he did scoring the ball tonight. When they did try to get the ball inside, our post guys were right there between Trenton Jones, Brendan Reinhard and Isiah Craighead.”

North Callaway took a 16-3 lead after one quarter, a 31-14 lead at halftime and a 48-17 advantage after three quarters. Silex’s leading scorer was Chase Mullen at six points by way of two 3-pointers. 

North Callaway faces Harrisburg (1-1) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the Centralia Invitational.

Community R-6 boys fall to Mark Twain fast break in 61-52 loss

The Community R-6 boys were competing in a “very hostile” environment Friday in Center.

The Trojans were tied with Mark Twain at 14 after one quarter and at 29 at halftime but started to fall behind in the second half prior to a 61-52 loss.

“I wish it could have turned out differently for us because we did some really nice things and kept our composure,” head coach Tad Shotten said. “We had a few unforced turnovers that led to some easy fast break points for them which ended up being the difference in the game.”

Gavin Allen led Community (1-2) with 21 points, Mason Carroll followed with eight points, and Eli Johnson, Brant Cope and Tucker Robnett each finished with six points.

The Trojans travel to Madison on Tuesday for its Central Activities Conference opener prior to hosting conference foe Slater at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Van-Far boys make necessary stops to defeat Louisiana 45-44

The Van-Far boys know they’re capable of a better offensive performance than they had Thursday night but liked what their defense did.

The Indians edged Louisiana 45-44 at home in their Eastern Missouri Conference opener. Nikos Connaway made the game-winning free throw in the final seconds of the game as part of his team-high 15 points along with five rebounds.

Gage Gibson finished with 10 points, Pacey Reading had seven points and six rebounds, and Carter Jennings had seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

“It was a hard fought battle between two teams that were equally prepared for one another,” head coach Pat Connaway said. “I definitely think it is a game we wouldn't have won last year. Our maturity level is much better this year and hopefully a win like this will help us continue to grow, learn, and get better.”

Connaway said Louisiana (2-1, 0-1 EMO) forced Van-Far (2-1, 1-0 EMO) into bad shot selection and a bad rhythm but thought the Indians could win if they held the Bulldogs to 23 points or less in the second half.

That mission was accomplished as, after being down 23-18 at half, the Indians outscored Louisiana 12-6 in the third quarter and 27-21 in the second half. Connaway said Van-Far held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly five minutes in the third quarter to put the team in a good position for the fourth quarter.

“Our initial inbounds set didn't work so Nikos took a handoff from Gage and he attacked the rim drawing a foul with four seconds left in the game,” Connaway said. “He calmly made the first free throw and then missed the second one on purpose and the ball got tipped around and Louisiana secured the ball and called their final timeout with .6 seconds left.  Luckily for us, their final desperation 3 was off the mark.”

Van-Far opened its Centralia Invitational on Tuesday against Class 2 No. 2 Salisbury.

Missouri Military Academy 67 Tuscumbia 35 Friday in Tuscumbia (Albert Ogutu 26 points, Tsengeg Bayasgalan and Nathan Dempsey 12 points each)

Centralia  74 Marshall 53 Thursday in Centralia 

Boys wrestling 

North Callaway wrestling sweeps 1st meet of season in Versailles quad

So far so good for several of North Callaway’s returning state-qualifying wrestlers.

The Thunderbirds swept all three duals in their first meet of the season Thursday at the Versailles quad meet. They defeated Boonville 54-24, Buffalo 72-18 and Versailles 41-33.

After each qualified for the state meet last season, Lane Kimbley, Cashton Holloway, Eli Henry and Carson Safranski each began their seasons undefeated. Henry and Safranski each scored three pinfalls in the 150- and 157-pound weight classes, Kimbley had a pinfall and a 19-2 technical fall victory against his Versailles opponent in the 132 class, and Holloway had two pins in the 138 class.

Casper Safranski was also undefeated on the night after two pins and winning a 6-5 decision against Versailles’ William Dobbins. 

MMA wrestling takes two duals of three in Washington, sweeps Wright City quad

Missouri Military Academy wrestling was able to get two early wins in Washington before dominating in Wright City.

The Colonels competed in a duals meet Wednesday at St. Francis Borgia, losing to Father Tolton 71-6 but defeating Maplewood-Richmond Heights 66-17 and the host Knights 67-12. They then defeated Wright City 60-17, South Callaway 48-27 and Gateway Science Academy Charter 66-12 in a Thursday quad in Wright City

In Washington, Gabe Canonico, Michael Pfeifer, Matthew Pfeifer, Jancarlo Barajas, Bryson Powell, Trae Griffiths, Blake Krull, Adam Swenson, Lucas Sydlewski and Samuel Stevens were among the cadets who wrestled to wins.

Powell scored a pinfall victory in the 150-pound weight class and the only points for MMA in the dual against Father Tolton. 

Matthew Pfeifer, Michael Pfeifer and Canonico won each of their matches by pinfall against their Maplewood-Richmond Heights opponents in the 106-, 138- and 157-pound weight classes, respectively. 

Winning by pinfall against St. Francis Borgia were Griffiths (144), Canonico, Krull (165), Swenson (175), Sydlewski (120) and Stevens (126). Michael Pfeifer won by a 7-2 decision, and Powell won by an 11-3 major decision.

In Wright City, seven cadets had undefeated 3-0 nights including Mathew Pfeifer, Caleb Xamis at 113, Sydlewski, Dallas Grantz at 120, Stevens, Swenson and Ben Huynh at 285. Pfeifer, Stevens, Swenson and Huynh each picked up two pins while Canonico also did outside of his one loss.

Check the the Wednesday, December 7, 2022, edition of the Mexico Ledger or the website for the full stories.