KIRKSVILLE — The Fulton Hornets didn't allow a little weariness to stand in their way.
Fulton outscored Kirksville 16-4 in the second quarter and the Hornets turned away a late rally by the Tigers to preserve a 57-54 North Central Missouri Conference victory Friday night.
The Hornets — who also downed Kirksville 56-49 on Dec. 15 in Fulton — raised their season record to 17-3 and remained unbeaten in the NCMC at 8-0. Fulton was coming off a 50-36 home victory over Southern Boone late Thursday night, then had to make the long trip north to Kirksville on Friday night.
"I'm tired, so I know that they've got to be tired," Hornets head coach Justin Gilmore said of his players. "We asked them to come out with energy and effort — Kirksville is always a tough place to play.
"We knew we were going to have to bring it (Friday night), and the guys really answered that."
Fulton trailed 14-13 after one quarter, but badgered Kirksville on defense in the second quarter to take a 29-18 lead into the break.
"We did it on the defensive end," Gilmore said. "We got a lot of stops, steals and run-outs, which led to a lot of easy buckets going the other way.
"We executed our offensive plan to a T and got the ball to the places where we needed to get it."
The Hornets opened the fourth quarter with a 38-28 advantage and held on for the win despite being outscored by the Tigers 26-19 over the last 8 minutes.
Senior guard Makygh Galbreath responded with 17 points to direct four players in double figures for Fulton. Senior forward Cameron Vaughn was next with 16 points, while senior forward Lecheyon Williams and junior guard AJ Reid both contributed 10.
Austin Penick paced Kirksville with a game-high 19 points and Noah Copeland added 13.
The Hornets (8-4) prevailed in the junior varsity game 42-35. Junior guard Taeon Logan finished with 12 points and sophomore forward John Adams had 10.
Fulton redeemed itself in Thursday night's 14-point triumph over Southern Boone at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium. The Hornets avenged losses to the Eagles in the championship of the California Tournament in January and the semifinals of the Southern Boone Classic earlier this month.
Fulton tightened up its defense Thursday night after allowing an average of 67.5 points in the two previous meetings with the Eagles.
"Our defensive effort was phenomenal," Gilmore said. "Our guys made a conscious effort to sit down collectively and guard for the entire four quarters.
"Lecheyon did a tremendous job at cleaning the glass and limiting them to one shot each time down the court. (Senior forward) Tre (Vaughn), (senior guard) Naz (McClain) and Makygh did an outstanding job shutting down their playmakers all night."
Fulton was in front 14-9 after one quarter Thursday night and went into halftime with a 21-20 edge. The Hornets trailed by three points midway through the third quarter before breaking out on a 15-0 run to put them up 39-27 with about 5 minutes left in the game.
Southern Boone trimmed its deficit to five points, but Fulton was able to convert at the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Cameron Vaughn delivered 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and also collected 12 rebounds to guide the Hornets. Galbreath finished with nine points and Williams grabbed 11 rebounds.
Sam Stichnote and Reece Gilmore tallied 14 points apiece for the Eagles.
Fulton hosts an NCMC makeup game against Marshall at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The Hornets outlasted the Owls in a 52-47 victory Dec. 8 in Marshall.