Panthers top Warriors in consolation game

FULTON – It wasn’t the dominating wins of the two previous meetings, but Amory grabbed the No. 3 seed for Division 1-4A with a 67-64 win over Pontotoc in the boys’ consolation game of the division tournament on Friday.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal Amory's Nick Beeks defends Pontotoc's Marcus Reed as he tries to make his way to the basket on Friday in the Division 1-4A boys consolation game.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
Amory’s Nick Beeks defends Pontotoc’s Marcus Reed as he tries to make his way to the basket on Friday in the Division 1-4A boys consolation game.

The Panthers had previously beaten the Warriors by double digits in the two regular season meetings, but were unable to open up more than an 8-point lead in the second half on Friday.
“It wasn’t pretty at all, but a win at this time of the year is a win. We’ll take it anyway we can get it, whether it’s by 1 or 50,” Amory coach Rob Browning said.
Amory started off the game quickly, opening up an early 16-2 lead midway through the first with Jaylon Fair scoring 8 of those points.
Pontotoc clawed its way back into the game, and Trei Freeman’s 3-pointer put the Warriors to within 7 before Devin McIntosh’s shot gave Amory a 22-11 lead after the first.
Dario Robinson’s three-point play with a minute to go in the second put the Panthers up 35-29, but Pontotoc scored 4 straight to bring them to within two going into the break.
The two teams changed leads 10 times in the back-and-forth third quarter. Fair hit two straight baskets to give Amory the lead for good in the beginning of the fourth. A 3-pointer and a two-point shot from McIntosh on back-to-back Amory possessions opened up a 62-54 lead before Pontotoc went on a 5-0 run to cut into the lead.
Pontotoc got within two points three times in the closing minutes but free throws from Fair and Robinson sealed the Amory win.
“It seemed like everything was going wrong,” Browning said of the Panthers’ troubles in the second half. “We had turnovers here and there, which are going to happen, but I felt like for some reason, we started settling for jump shots. That’s something that if they go in, they go in, and that’s great. But a lot of nights, you’re not going to shoot 60 or 70 percent. When you settle for them, you live and die by them, and tonight we were lucky to live enough.”
The win sends them to Houston on Tuesday, the No. 2 seed from Division 3-4A.
“We’re going to be on the road, and I would assume we’re going to be the underdog. I look forward to it,” Browning said. “We’re going to get after it at practice on Sunday and Monday and try to have a good game plan in place.”