Late Nevada rally Kerbs Joplin's enthusiasm

Friday, December 22, 2006
Nevada junior Jordan Kerbs hangs while attempting a shot during Thursday's 51-48 win over Joplin in the Carthage Invitational semifinals. Kerbs had 12 points and the game-winning free throws with 14 seconds remaining.

By Joe Warren

Nevada Daily Mail

CARTHAGE, Mo. -- Jordan Kerbs hit two free throws after stealing an inbounds pass to give Nevada the lead as the Tigers overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to knock off the Joplin Eagles Thursday, 51-48.

Kerbs' steal came on the heels of a Bryan Campbell bucket that tied the game at 48, and the 5-10 junior was fouled while attempting a layup with 14 seconds left.

Kerbs was guarding against an inbounds pass as Nevada had gone to full-court pressure in the final minute. The point guard said he just instinctively turned and the ball was coming toward him.

"I was just face guarding," Kerbs said. "I thought it was about five seconds so I turned around and the ball was right there."

After the steal he immediately went to the basket where he was fouled. Kerbs dropped both free throws, providing the winning points in the contest.

Joplin's Taylor Macfee turned the ball over with six seconds to play and Campbell hit one of two free throws after being fouled to provide the final margin of victory.

The win seemed unlikely when Macfee scored two of his game-high 16 points to open the fourth quarter of the Carthage Invitational semifinal matchup. The basket gave second-seeded Joplin (3-5) a 37-24 lead.

A Campbell free throw made it 37-25, and with 6:36 left in the contest Kerbs drove the lane and hit a leaner while being fouled. The first-year starter completed the three-point play to cut the lead to nine.

A pair of free throws by Joplin's Scott Williams pushed the lead back to 11, but Nevada's James Tumm scored off an offensive rebound to make it 39-30.

Campbell scored inside to make it 39-32, and Kerbs made one of two free throws with 4:57 left to make it a six-point game. Kerbs had missed the first of two free-throw attempts -- his only miss from the line Thursday as he finished 10-for-11 at the stripe and had 12 points.

Another Joplin basket stretched the lead back to eight, but another pair of Kerbs tosses allowed Nevada (6-2) to make it 41-35.

Ashton Glover scored to again put the Eagles up by eight, and a Brandon Davis free throw made the score 43-36.

Two Glover free throws with 4:01 to play allowed the Eagles to open the lead to nine, but that's when Nevada made one final game-winning push. The Tigers closed with a 15-3 run, with Tumm and Drew Weatherly each scoring five in the final minutes.

"It shows a lot of heart and desire to win," Kerbs said of his team's comeback.

The Tigers started the game slowly, sleepwalking through the first half as the Eagles led 9-4 after one quarter and 22-13 at halftime.

Macfee did much of his damage in the second quarter, scoring 11 points including three consecutive 3-pointers.

"I don't know what team played the first half," Nevada head coach John McNeley said. "That's as poor a first half as I've seen played by a Nevada team in a long time. We acted like we had laid around all day and weren't ready to play."

The third period wasn't much better as Joplin actually extended the lead to 13 on three occasions. It wasn't until the fourth period that Nevada's intensity level picked up and the offense followed suit.

The Tigers scored more points in the final quarter (27) than they had the rest of the game (24).

Nevada had four players in double figures in the contest, with Tumm leading the way with 13 points. Campbell had 12 and Weatherly 11.

Glover added 14 for Joplin.

The Tigers move on to the championship game of the Carthage Invitational, where they will take on Carl Junction for the second consecutive year.

Last season the Bulldogs won the title game 61-46.

Top-seeded Carl Junction advanced by winning their semifinal over Seneca Thursday, 58-53.

In consolation action Thursday Carthage dropped Aurora 53-48, and Monett beat McDonald County 63-37.

The tournament concludes today with the seventh-place game between Aurora and McDonald County at 4 p.m. The fifth-place game follows between Carthage and Monett.

The Tigers and Bulldogs are scheduled to play at 8:30 p.m.

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