By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Mooreville Troopers looked in control for their twelfth win of the season with four minutes to play in their contest with North Pontotoc, up by 15 points.
The Vikings, however, caught fire from that point, dropping in 22 of their 28 fourth-quarter points the last half of the period.
In the end, the comeback effort fell short as Mooreville escaped with a 76-75 win at Northeast’s Bonner Arnold Coliseum to close the Booneville Kiwanis Classic.
“We made several runs, but we just couldn’t capitalize on a lot of them,” Vikings coach Chris Pettit said. “It showed a lot of character for them to dig down, find it and comeback.”
Mooreville kept North Pontotoc in the game by committing nine fourth-quarter turnovers and missing 10-of-18 free-throw attempts in the period.
Two free throws by Mitch Doom with 1:07 to play cut the Troopers’ lead down to 75-67 after Mooreville had held a 10-plus point lead nearly the entire second half.
Kelsey Scott hit a free throw with one minute left to make it a nine-point game before the Vikings (11-5) ended the game on a 7-0 run.
Javonnis Garmon’s layup started the run with 58 seconds to play. Then after Mooreville stepped out of bounds on North Pontotoc’s baseline, Murphy Daniel caught the inbounds pass and laid it in for an easy two points to cut the deficit to 76-72.
Garmon missed a 3-point attempt following two missed free throws by Mooreville’s Quadzing Rogers, allowing extra time to run off the clock. Doom would eventually make it a one-point game with two seconds left on a 3-ball.
But with no timeouts remaining for the Vikings, Mooreville (12-2) did not the throw the ball in, allowing the clock to expire to clinch the victory.
“I saw that panic look in their face. We tried to do too much and got ourselves in trouble,” Troopers coach Jeff Tally said. “But I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty any day.”
Austin Timms finished with 23 points and added 15 rebounds for the Troopers. Playing with 12 stitches, Doom led the Vikings with 21 points.