Carthage falls in nail-biter to Ray-Pec on final shot

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Tigers to play West Plains for third place in 75th Annual Tiger Invitational tournament

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Carthage Tigers fell in the last seconds to Raymore-Peculiar and Joplin dominated West Plainsto set up the final two games on Saturday of the 75th annual Carthage Tigers Invitational boys basketball tournament.

Joplin will play Ray-Pec for the title at 4:30 p.m. at Carthage High School, and Carthage will play West Plains in the third place game at 3 p.m.

Other games on Saturday include Webb City playing Fort Smith Southside for fifth place in the tournament at 1:30 p.m. and Nevada playing Leavenworth for seventh place at noon.

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Nail-biter

The Carthage Tigers fell behind 8-0 to start its semi-final game with Ray-Pec and spent the entire rest of the game playing catchup.

“We put ourselves in a hole early and from that point on, outscored them. I told the guys I have to put us in a better spot to start the game,” said Carthage Coach Nathan Morris. “Credit to Coach Jermain and their ability knock down some early shots.”

After falling behind in the first quarter 16-9, the Tigers played the Panthers even in the second and third quarter to trail 36-29 going into the final quarter, and that’s when the Tigers rallied.

“I asked those kids, what happens in that game if we’re not calling a time out down seven nothing in the first quarter,” said Morris. “I told them we had to be extremely proud of the way they fought, but that was the thing this young group did last year. They got down in games and we always continued to play hard and we fought back. We have to find a way to not do that this year.”

Carthage outscored Ray-Pec 10-4 up to the 2:30 mark in the fourth quarter, then Carthage Junior Max Templeman tied it with 1:05 by hitting one of two free throws.

The Tigers defense held tough in that last minute until Ray-Pec’s Ryker Nelson drove the lane and scored with 5.4 seconds to go up 42-40 for the win.

Templeman led the Tigers with 13 points while Justin Ray, Tyler Willis and Joel Pugh all tallied 6.

Ray-Pec’s sophomore Ashton Jermain led all scorers with 19 of the Panthers’ 42 points.

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