Poplar Bluff falls in second night of SEMO Border Challenge; Notre Dame rebounds

Poplar Bluff's fourth-quarter struggles continued for a second straight night in the SEMO Border Challenge.

After scoring five points in the final eight minutes in the opener, the Mules did it again Friday night. However, instead of leading at the start of the final frame, Poplar Bluff trailed and fell further behind in a 43-31 loss to Ozark at the Senior High Gym.

Heading into the final round Saturday, Ozark leads the standings with a five-point cushion.

Earle (Ark.) also improved to 2-0 in the Challenge with a 55-30 win over Dexter. The Bulldogs face the host Mules in the final game of the three-day event at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Ozark (5-1) will play Notre Dame at 1 p.m. to start the day.

The Tigers were a 20-win team last season and their lone loss so far this season was a 1-point loss to Nettleton (Ark.). They pulled ahead in the second quarter and took a 31-26 lead into the fourth.

The Mules (4-2), who held on to win 40-35 against Benton (Ill.) on Thursday, got just two field goals in the fourth quarter Friday.

Kiley Bess had four of Poplar Bluff's fourth-quarter points and finished with 16 to lead the offense. Sierra Sievers sank a foul shot to account for the other fourth-quarter point. Abby Turner chipped in five points while Sievers and Emma Johnson each scored three points. Alexis Richardson and Hannah Corcimiglia each scored a basket.

Moriah Putt scored 17 points to lead Ozark as the sophomore had seven second-quarter points and five in the fourth to match the Mules. Senior Madi Braden added 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers for the Tigers.

Both teams started slow with each knocking down just two field goals in the opening quarter. The Mules led 7-6 by getting a pair of foul shots from Bess, who finished 5 of 8 at the line.

In all, Ozark sank 6 of 16 foul shots, including 4 of 10 in the fourth quarter. Poplar Bluff was 7 of 16 at the line and just 1 of 6 in the fourth.

Putt led Ozark's push in the second quarter as the Tigers took a 17-15 lead into the break. Braden and senior Olivia Hanks each sank a 3-pointer in the third as Ozark built a five-point lead.

If both Ozark and Earle win Saturday the championship will be determined on point differential, which features a 15-point cap. If two teams are tied on points, a coin flip determines the winner.

NOTRE DAME 47, BENTON 31

Lexi Rubel scored seven of her team-high 13 points in the second quarter as the Bulldogs turned a three-point lead into a nine-point halftime advantage.

Leah Jansen and Delaney Dohogne each scored six points for Notre Dame while Emily Kellum and Alora Smith chipped in five apiece.

Benton was led by Mady Wallace's 12 points while Ensley Tedeschi added 10.

Notre Dame can still win the title with a win over Ozark and a Poplar Bluff win depending on the point differentials of both games.

EARLE 55, DEXTER 30

The Bearcats trailed by six after the first quarter but were outscored 17-7 in the second, falling to 0-2 in the Challenge.

Dulcie Pullen scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the first half for Dexter while Alexa Werneck chipped in five points and Sydney Asberry added four for the Bearcats.

Colbi Maples scored 24 points, 10 in the second quarter alone, a night after scoring 27 in a 59-52 win over Notre Dame.

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