By Mike Talbert
JACKS0N Calhoun City’s Jeremie Ezell, who had just come in the game, put up a 3-pointer to tie and it rimmed out at the buzzer.
It was that close in the boys Class 2A State Tournament first round game. Calhoun City found a 16-point deficit just too much to dig out of in a 71-68 loss to Bay Springs in the Mississippi Coliseum Thursday.
The Wildcats cut the lead to one three times, but never had the ball with a shot for the lead.
“We have a young team, but they showed what kind of future they can have if they keep working,” coach Trey Hamby said.
“Our young players can play pretty good when they are on, but they can look mighty ordinary when they aren’t,” he said. “That is something we have had to deal with all year.”
The Wildcats looked both good and ordinary during the game that ended their season at 13-14.
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, with Jody Jennings scoring 19 points, David West 15, Jonathon Herrod 14 and Bernard Sykes 12.
Calhoun City had an early 12-0 run that gave the Wildcats a 20-11 lead early in the second quarter.
“Then our kids started missing their shots and they started hitting theirs,” Hamby said
The Bulldogs cranked up the fast break off rebounds and went on a 20-6 run to take control of the game and build a 40-32 halftime lead.
Calhoun City came into its 10th state tournament appearance with a .500 record after a 1-8 start. This is the second tournament appearance for Bay Springs, whose only other showing was in 1991.
Bay Springs (20-12) faces South 2A champion Choctaw Central (24-8) at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. North 2A champion Mooreville (27-8) remains the only North 2A team alive.
The Wildcats, who had two freshmen and two sophomores in the lineup against three seniors and two juniors, couldn’t regain their balance until midway into the third quarter. By then they trailed 52-36.
Thanks to four 3-pointers, two by Herrod, and a three-point play, Clahoun City was able to cut it to one point, 60-59, on a David West layup with four minutes left.
However, the Bulldogs’ Mack Pierce hit a 3-pointer and Brian Martin hit a layup to extend Bays Springs’ lead to 67-61 with two minutes left. Jennings’ 3-pointer cut it to 69-68 with 16 seconds left. Pierce then hit a pair of free throws to set up the final shot.
“Experience was it. They had a good, experienced club that played well together,” Hamby said. “Our guys didn’t quit, and they were learning things every minute that they played.”
Pierce led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Martin added 12 and Wilbert Wilson 11.
This was the final career game for referee Dicky Miller of Amory, who is retiring to watch his son, Cooper, play basketball at Amory High School.