By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – The Baldwyn Bearcats did enough hard work through the first three quarters of play to clinch the Division 1-2A No. 1 seed for the upcoming division tournament.
But just barely.
Fully engaged in the final period, the Hickory Flat Rebels saw a valiant comeback attempt fall short as the Bearcats held on for a 75-72 victory Thursday.
“That was two good teams that competed awfully hard tonight,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “When you’re making shots like we were for the first part of the game, it gives you energy to do other aspects well also.
“When we stopped making shots, their energy was greater than ours. We’ve got to learn from this.”
With good shooting and penetration by guard Dee Gates, Baldwyn (21-2, 5-0) moved to as much as a 48-29 lead early in the third quarter.
But Jamerson Kizer made some key points that helped to pull Hickory Flat (21-7, 3-1) within 61-49 entering the fourth period.
There, Timothy Tatum picked up the scoring slack for the Rebels, scoring 10 points in the quarter. A basket by Tatum, quickly followed by a tough layup by Anthony Tucker with 22 second left pulled the Rebels within 72-70.
Gates nailed two free throws for Baldwyn with 15 seconds remaining, then Tatum responded with a rebound and basket with 4.4 second left to pull Hickory Flat within two points again.
An Ian Burress free throw added to the Baldwyn lead, with the Rebels’ long attempt at tying the contest at the buzzer wide.
“Baldwyn did a great job of putting the ball in the hands of people who could make plays,” Hickory Flat coach Michael Seger said. “Our guys fought for each other at the end.”
Gates paced the Baldwyn offense with 27 points, while Tatum scored 22 for Hickory Flat.
– (G) Hickory Flat 59, Baldwyn 26: With some hard-nosed shooting by Kayla Kolivas, and timely baskets off the bench by Jordan Wilson, the Lady Rebels had a comfortable halftime margin of 28-12.
Kolivas tallied 14 to lead Hickory Flay, and Ayana Ragin hit 11 for Baldwyn.