...respond with sluggish win
By Joe Warren
Nevada Daily Mail
NEVADA, Mo. -- Nevada rebounded from a poor free-throw shooting performance during the Carthage tournament by hitting nine of 10 in the fourth quarter to hold off the Clinton Cardinals Monday, 54-49.
The Tigers had shot 47 percent from the charity stripe in their final two games of the tourney (23-of-49), but hit a much higher percentage against Clinton at Wynn Gymnasium. For the game, Nevada converted 21 of 26 free throws -- 81 percent -- to overcome a rough third quarter and win their home opener.
"We're too good of shooters to not hit a high percentage of free throws," Nevada coach John McNeley said. "We definitely made some big free throws and that probably won the ballgame for us in the second half."
Nevada (3-1) looked a step slow most of the night, despite building a lead that was as large as 12 points with 1:18 left to go in the first half.
Then they allowed Clinton to make a half-ending run, and the Cardinals closed to within six by the break.
In the second half Clinton continued their onslaught, taking advantage of the visibly tired Tigers inside to take 38-34 lead.
André Steward led the charge for Clinton, scoring the team's final eight points of the second quarter, and five of their first nine in the third period as the Cardinals built their four-point lead.
Nevada kept Clinton within striking distance, particularly at the line. J.R. Mills and Seth Owings each hit a pair of free throws in the third quarter and Mills added a trey as the fourth period began with Clinton leading 43-40.
In the final period each team had only two field goals as the Tigers did their damage with free tosses as Mills, Logan Moore and Justin Reed each converted a pair. Bryan Campbell went 3-for-4 at the line and Nevada escaped thanks to a 14-6 advantage in the fourth quarter.
"We're very, very fortunate to win the ballgame," McNeley said. "We were ripe for the picking and almost got picked."
McNeley acknowledged that the Tigers were visibly fatigued, after playing their fourth game in eight days to start the young season.
"We were dragging," McNeley said. "We played tired. We guarded with some energy early on, but it was like we hit a wall. The big ballgame Saturday night took a lot out of us."
To help the Tigers get their legs back McNeley planned to give his players the day off today, in hopes that they can recharge for Friday's home game against El Dorado Springs.
"You have to be smart about what you're doing with your time," McNeley said. "There was already a conflict with wrestling for the gym and so rather than practicing at the middle school we just decided to give the players a day."
The Tigers once again were very balanced in the scorebook. Nine players scored for the Tigers, led by Mills with 14. Campbell and Owings each added nine.
The Cardinals had two players in double figures as Steward led all scorers with 15 and Matt McCoy added 13.
The Nevada junior varsity also beat Clinton 60-52. The JV was led by Kyle Hughes, Jordan Kerbs and Trevor Hinkle, who each scored 11points.