Coldwater outlasts Hawks

Despite several runs in the second half, the Hawks were unable to defeat Coldwater for the second time in a row, as they lost 73-71 in the 1A State Championship Thursday night.

After watching the Cougars miss both free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining, the Hawks had an opportunity for one final play to try to tie or win, but a broken play is all Myrtle would have after the timeout, as they lost for the second time in three years for a state title.

Myrtle found themselves coming from behind, as Coldwater built a 10-point halftime lead, 40-30. Jeremy Scott was 2-for-3 from behind the arc to lead the Cougars with 14 at the break. Myrtle struggled, shooting 35 percent from the floor compared to Coldwater’s 53.8 percent.

“Down 10 at the half, I thought mine could have quit, but I’ve got warriors, and they battled back,” Myrtle head coach Jonathan Ashley said. “All we wanted was a chance in the fourth quarter, and we had that chance. Eventually, one of these days, we’ll be on the right side of that.”

Jimel Judon scored the first four for the Hawks to open the third, forcing the Cougars to call a quick timeout. Myrtle would cut the deficit to six, 46-40, but a sequence of fouls, including a technical on David Wilson, placed Scott at the line and he put the Cougars back up by 10.

After going ahead by 12, Myrtle would go on a 7-0 run, including five from Judon. Beau Cummings’ free throws made it 52-47. A three by Wilson made it 55-50, and Justin Jordan would make it a one-point game late in the frame, 55-54. Free throws by Scott gave Coldwater the three-point advantage heading into the fourth.

“That’s just them, they’re a bunch of warriors,” Ashley said of their comeback in the second half. “There’s no quit in a Myrtle kid. Could have done it a long time ago, could have done it tonight. Throughout the playoff run, they could have done it, but they don’t know the word quit.”

The Cougars would run the clock while going on a 5-2 run in the early part of the quarter going ahead 63-56.  Judon would cut the lead to three, while free throws by Wilson made it 64-63. Both teams would battle, as the lead would not go above five for Coldwater. Jordan hit a three with 12.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to one, 72-71, setting up the final events of the game.

“We were trying to get it to David. He’s so unselfish that he sees J.J. breaking open on the backside. Only thing I wish he would have done differently was get it on the rim,” Ashley said of the final moments of the game. “I think going for the tie, he should have just pulled up and shot it, but he’s unselfish and looking to tie it and send it to overtime. You can’t blame him.”

Judon finished with 19 to lead Myrtle, along with eight rebounds. Cummings and Jordan each had 15, while Wilson finished with 13 and seven rebounds. One of the biggest stories of the playoffs was the return of Jordan for the final two games.

“Ours is a good story, and with three more points, it would have been a great story, but that doesn’t change what our kids accomplished,” Ashley said of his team battling back from injury. “I’m proud of them. I’ve got warriors that have a lot of heart. The fact that we’re still here is attributed to them and their character.”

Scott was the player of the game with 22 points and four steals, while Sanchez Hunt added 13 and Dominick Major 10 with six rebounds.

The Hawks will only lose two members from this year’s squad, Justin Jordan and Cody Daniels, and will look to make another run to state next year.

“I got a lot of them coming back. It’s a tribute to our kids how they’ve fought and come back,” Ashley said. “We got to this point, so you have to credit their heart.”