Joplin boys steamroll Wichita West in tourney semifinals

·3 min read

Jan. 22—PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Joplin boys basketball team lit up the scoreboard on Friday night.

The Eagles got off to a scorching 33-12 start in the first quarter and overwhelmed Wichita West 91-47 in the consolation semifinals of the Bill Hanson Memorial Tournament at Pittsburg High School.

It marked the first time Joplin (13-3) scored 90 or more points in a contest since steamrolling McDonald County 90-53 on Jan. 24, 2020.

"I told the kids after the game I was looking more at our energy," Joplin coach Bronson Schaake said. "We used a lot of energy last night in a tough game (against Blue Valley Northwest). That was the most important thing. We made adjustments on the fly. They responded well tonight."

And it didn't take long for the Eagles to find their offensive footing. Joplin surged out to a 13-3 start after Always Wright knocked down a floater at the 4:36 mark in the first quarter.

That stretch of play was highlighted by a strong start from big man Terrance Gibson, who scored seven points in the first three minutes of action.

After Wichita West cut the deficit to 20-12 following a putback from Gavyn Phillips, the Eagles responded in a big way with 13 unanswered tallies to take a commanding 19-point advantage into the second quarter.

Always Wright punctuated Joplin's run with a triple from the right wing with just six seconds left in the first quarter.

The Eagles applied the offensive pressure the rest of the game. Joplin went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter to take a 53-17 lead after a nifty driving layup via All Wright from the baseline.

Then just before the halftime buzzer, All Wright executed another driving layup to give his Eagles a lopsided 60-23 lead. Joplin extended that advantage to 80-40 after the third quarter and the running clock was ignited in the fourth.

The Wright brothers, All and Always, fired in a combined 48 points for the Eagles. All one-upped his older sibling with 25 points, while Always tallied 23.

"It was just the usual from them," Schaake said. "They are hard to guard. They can do a lot of different things. They can take you off the dribble and they are smart with the ball. All is getting really good about posting up. I want to see Always start doing that, but it's very, very hard to pinpoint one thing they can't do."

Gibson finished with 15 points to round out Joplin in double-figures. Brantley Morris contributed eight points, while Quin Renfro chipped in six.

"We can run bigs at them now, too," Schaake added. "Terrance had a good start to the game. Quin is getting better and better. He is not that far off with that outside shot. He is a guy that can attack off the dribble. It was good to get some other bodies in there and get some confidence."

Joplin plays Willard at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the consolation finals. Willard defeated Pittsburg Friday night.

"We just need to keep playing hard," Schaake said. "I told the guys before the tournament that I don't know if we can win it or play in the seventh place game, but I just want to know that we keep getting better and working hard. We have a month left in the season, so that's when we need to start amping it up and getting locked in."