A valiant second-half that saw the Bulldogs start with a 13-0 run and eventually send the game to overtime was not enough for Bay Springs as they fell in the semi-final contest against Coahoma County 70-61.
“I’m proud of our effort. We put ourselves in a hole early by not doing what we were supposed to in the beginning, but we fought our way back and put ourselves in a position to win the game. We fell just short,” said Bay Springs head coach Corey Mackey.
Bay Springs scored the opening basket, but that would be the only time the Bulldogs led in the first half as Coahoma County took the lead on an Amarian Phillips three-pointer. A bucket from Chad Jones tied things up 6-6 between the teams, but baskets from Harlem Bell and Christopher Abby put Coahoma County back in the driver’s seat.
The Panthers hit four three-point baskets in the opening period.
Coahoma County’s lead extended to 12 midway through the second period and stayed in the double-digits throughout as Bay Springs could not find their offense while the Panthers continued to shoot well from the arc. They took a 27-16 lead into the halftime break.
“We missed assignments. We knew that their guys could hit those wide-open shots and we were so concerned with stopping other players that we let them get out and rotate. We just didn’t do the right things in the first half and do what we are supposed to. They were able to hit those shots early and often, explained Mackey.”
Bay Springs stormed out of the halftime break, going on a 13-0 run as A’donnius McGill, Chad Jones, Cartize Booth, and Tashun Pierce all found the basket. Jones and the Bulldogs took the lead when he was fouled on a shot and successfully made his and-one.
Coahoma County gathered things back up and took the lead back as Tylin Martin was fouled and hit his and-one basket.
The Panthers held the lead for the rest of the period and throughout the fourth.
In the final two minutes when the free throw game became a factor, Bay Springs inched their way back into things as Mario Jones, Pierce, Booth, and Jones all started connecting at the line.
With seconds remaining, Booth was foul and left the game with an injury, leaving Jones a the line with a chance to tie and take the lead. Jones hit his first to tie the contest 55-55 but did not hit his second attempt, sending the game to overtime.
“We had our best player on the free throw line to shoot the last two, and he made one and missed one, but you have to live with those. It happens in the NBA, and the NCAA. Kids sometimes miss free throws. Once we missed the free throw, we just seem to be exhausted,” said Mackey.
Coahoma County found their shot again in the overtime period, outscoring Bay Springs 15-6, ultimately winning the contest 70-61.
Coach Mackey, while disappointed with the loss, found positives.
“We have the majority of our team coming back next season,” stated Mackey. “Right now, they are in there with their heads down and hurting, but that’s the good thing about being a young team. That feeling that they have now, they are not going to want that feeling anymore. Getting to this stage with such a young team gives us that much more experience when we come here again next season. With falling short this year, they know they have to work hard to take home the gold ball next season.”