East Carter, Neelyville highlight All-OFC selections

The All-Conference selections for the Ozark Foothills Conference were released Monday with the East Carter boys and Neelyville girls earning the most selections after both teams won the OFC Tournament.

The Redbirds upset top-seeded Neelyville to win their first OFC Tournament in 23 years while the Tigers continued their dominance with their 12th straight OFC Tournament title.

Selecting the teams was delayed this year as coaches did not meet in person to vote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they selected the teams over email, which took longer.

Dalton Rudd, Levi Boyer and Preston Golden all earned All-Conference honors while their coach Jordan Penn was named Coach of the Year.

“Those three kids, they were the guys that led us every night,” Penn said. “All three of those guys deserved All-Conference with the help of us winning the tournament.”

Lexi Liau, Makenzi Davis, Payton Reinbott and Bailey McGruder all earned All-Conference honors for Neelyville with their coach Becky Hale earning Coach of the Year.

“Those girls worked hard, I believe they earned it, as did the other girls on the list, as well,” Hale said.

Rudd became the first East Carter player to score 1,000 points since 2015 and had 23 points in the OFC finals. Golden finished with 19 after scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points of the game while Boyer added 12. Boyer also picked up some key charges to help get Neelyville in foul trouble.

The Redbirds also beat Neelvyille in for the Clarkton Christmas Tournament championship.

East Carter finished 18-9 on the season, eventually losing by two points to eventual district champion Thayer in the MSHSAA Class 2 District 2 quarterfinals, and may return Boyer, who is a junior, and Golden who is a sophomore, giving them two All-Conference players who are 6-5 and 6-4 to build a team around.

“Losing Dalton is going to hurt a lot, but those two really took a big step. They have focused on basketball and they play a lot of games in the summertime,” Penn said. “We are going to have to rely even more next year, but I don’t know if I’d want to lean on any two other guys than those two. I’m looking for them to have a great season next year.”

Liau also earned Class 2 All-State honors after finishing the season with 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 3.2 assists and 1.1 blocks, all while playing the final month of the season with a protective mask due to an elbow to the face that broke her palette.

That OFC final was Liau’s first game back from the injury. She took a week off and underwent several surgeries, including a root canal, to get back for the championship game.

The Tigers earned the top seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season in a three-way tie with Naylor and Doniphan in the OFC standings. In a 63-47 win over Doniphan for the championship, Liau scored 10 of her 13 points in the first half.

Davis scored 10 of Neelyville’s first 13 points and finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Reinbott got nine of her 12 points in the second half while McGruder had eight points.

“Having multiple girls being able to step up any given night really helps out our team,” Hale said.

Neelyville also won its fourth Lady Royals Christmas Classic after finishing second to Dexter the past four years. In another battle against Doniphan, Reinbott and Davis combined for 30 points in that game, including 13 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 54-45 win.

Liau had nine points after getting in foul trouble and McGruder got eight.

Neelyville finished 20-7 after losing to Thayer 47-40 in overtime of the Class 2 District 1 final and may return juniors Reinbott and Davis.

Additional All-Conference boys selections are: Gage Keller (Clearwater), Taylor Hick (Clearwater), Orie Owen (Doniphan), Ethan Jones (Doniphan), Brandon Dorris (Greenville), Jagger Robinson (Greenville), Mason Schrimsher (Naylor), Curtiis Fowler (Neelyville), Jemanne Williams-Titus (Neelyville) and Parker Watson (Twin Rivers).

Boys Honorable Mentions are: Karson Fay (Clearwater), Conner Powell (East Carter), Miller Gehrke (Twin Rivers), Brent Trout (Twin Rivers), and Jolby Jones (Twin Rivers).

Additional All-Conference girls selections are: Rachel Rowold (Clearwater), Emily Ederer (Doniphan), Olivia Cruetz (Doniphan), Ady Jones (Doniphan), Brooklyn Kearbey (East Carter), Kaylynn Johnson (Naylor) Ebby Moman (Naylor) and Abbey Hester (Twin Rivers).

Girls Honorable Mentions are: Makenna Moore (East Carter), Naomi Crowley (East Carter), Macky Marler (Greenville), Danielle Shepard (Naylor), Faith Sullivan (Naylor), and Jaylynn Williams (Twin Rivers).

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