By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Alcorn Central Bears never led Tuesday – in regulation.
Extending the contest into an extra period, the Bears did grab the lead, eventually downing the Belmont Cardinals 91-82 in quarterfinal action of the Division 1-3A Tournament at Northeast Community College.
“We started a little sluggish, but this team has a big heart and never quit,” said Central coach Brandon Quinn, whose Bears had beaten Belmont twice during the season. “I was never thinking negatively during the game.”
Opportunity came in many forms for Central in the this 4-5 seed matchup in the tournament. Perhaps the most obvious was Bears guard Jordan Wyke, who tossed in 37 points, including six 3-pointers.
Two of those 3-pointers came in the fourth quarter as Central overcame a 56-51 deficit to Belmont entering the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the most needed was the basket at the close of regulation by Chris Ekiss, who took a pass from Phillip Quinn and made the game-tying layup with 3 seconds left.
That was the first time the score had been tied since the opening tip.
The Bears never looked back as Trae Bain connected on a 3-pointer with 2:51 left in the overtime, and Wyke hit his last trey with 1:32 left. Central also made 11 free throws in the extra period, including eight in-a-row in the final 1:02.
“We’ve only got two seniors on this team, and they’ve never been able to say they would be playing next week, and never seen this many wins,” said Quinn, whose Bears only had three wins last season, and are now 20-9.
Trevor Smith chipped in 23 points for Central, with Jake Hall leading Belmont with 22. Belmont held a 37-26 halftime lead.
– (B) Ripley 81, Kossuth 49: The Ripley Tigers lit up the scoreboard in the second quarter, scoring 31 points in the period to lead 49-24 at the half.
Acie Vance scored 27, while Jordan Brawner and Josh Whitaker hit 10 each for Kossuth.
– (G) Kossuth 60, Booneville 29: Odyssey McGaha paced the Kossuth Lady Aggies offense with 18, and Kossuth led 31-11 at the half.