By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
MOOREVILLE – Austin Timms and his Mooreville teammates did not want to lose their school’s first home playoff game since 2001.
The Troopers had to fight off three second-half runs to do so, but they eventually defeated visiting Cleveland East Side 64-56 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
“We kept our heads up and played our best game,” Timms said. “We knew they were going to come in and play with us so we just played hard.”
Timms hit perhaps the biggest and most difficult shot of the game at the same time. After East Side cut Mooreville’s lead to 59-54 with 1:18 to play, the junior drove down the court and, while being fouled, threw up a behind-the-back shot that fell.
His basket, coupled with a layup by Kelton Kingsley seconds later, sealed the win for the Troopers (22-8), who will play Winona in the 3A North Half Tournament Thursday at Booneville.
“To win a game like that, sometimes you gotta have a few breaks,” Mooreville coach Jeff Tally said of Timms’ basket. “We’ll take those.”
Just like in the final minutes of the game, each time East Side (21-8) made a run the Troopers had a response.
In the third quarter, Rodriquis McGee’s old-fashioned three-point play edged the Trojans closer, down 42-37.
Kelsey Scott and Kingsley would both hit three’s, Scott’s as the buzzer sounded, to end East Side’s 10-0 run and put Mooreville up 50-41 after three.
Baskets by Khiry Lucas and McGee brought the Trojans within six early in the fourth, but a mini run that included makes by Erick Dilworth and Kingsley pushed the Troopers’ lead back to double-digits.
Timms scored a game-high 19 points for Mooreville, while McGee scored to lead East Side.