The difference in the style of play displayed by Ozark High School in each half on Tuesday night was as diametrically opposed as the infamous personality traits of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Ozark and senior Brett Krisik together played a nearly flawless first half, but the Tigers failed to match Webb City’s effort over the final two quarters and lost, 69-55, in Central Ozark Conference action.
“Any time we play a physical team, our kids do not match the aggressiveness,” Ozark coach Steve Hunter said. “If you don’t match the physicality of the game, you’ll get whipped and that’s what happened tonight on the boards.
“They got second and third shots in the third quarter and the number of easy buckets they got was a huge difference.”
Krisik was hot from the start, making 7 of 8 shots from the field in the first half and compiling 16 points and seven rebounds as Ozark (7-6, 0-1) led by seven (32-25) at halftime.
As a team, the Tigers made 12 of 22 shots from the field in the first half, while Webb City made only 11 of 32 shots from the floor.
“To be winning by seven points at the half and to mess it up is frustrating,” Krisik said. “We need to play stronger as a team. They’re football players and they’re big and they do what they do.
“It was a physical game, but Friday’s game against Rogersville will be, too, and we need to learn from this and carry that over to the next game.”
Webb City (9-3, 1-0) outscored Ozark 18-10 over the first 6:28 of the third period and took a 43-42 lead.
The Cardinals extended their lead to four points (48-44) by the end of the third quarter and held Ozark scoreless for a 3:06 span of the period.
“The adjustment we made at halftime was just coming out and being ourselves,” Webb City coach Landon Cornish said. “We got after them defensively. They can shoot the ball whenever you’re not guarding them very well and we weren’t guarding them very well in the first half.
“We got up into them and we started playing with more effort and that was the difference.”
Ozark made just 5 of 13 shots in the third quarter and made 8 of 22 shots and totaled 12 turnovers in second half as Webb City took control.
“Rebounds and turnovers were the biggest thing for us,” Krisik said. “We turned it over probably five or six times in a row and gave up second and third shots and they were scoring every time they had the ball.
“We were playing the same zone defense we always play and they were getting through the seams off their dribble-drive and they were getting to the line.”
Webb City senior point guard Phoenix Johnson scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the second half off several layups, a pair of 3s and 7 of 9 from the free throw line.
“Phoenix did tonight what he’s done for us all year,” Cornish said. “We put the ball in his hands and he takes care of it.”
Krisik finished with a team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds for Ozark.
Senior Kohl Slaughter chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds for Webb City.