By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – The Biggersville Lions were off to a swift start for this basketball season, but they ran into a team on a faster track Tuesday, the Baldwyn Bearcats.
The Bearcats used a strong fourth quarter to continue their success with a 78-67 victory in action in the Baldwyn Rotary Club Tournament.
“Biggersville is a very good team, and give them credit for the way they played tonight,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “And give our kids credit, too.”
In a matchup of two of the hotter small-school teams in the area, Biggersville (10-3) put a solid first half in the books.
Behind baskets by Dexter Stafford and Blake Anderson, the Lions built as much as a 15-7 lead in the first quarter. Biggersville bumped that margin to as much as 36-26 on a rebound and basket by Marques Watson in the second quarter, but Baldwyn (11-1) hung tough, and only trailed 38-34 at the half.
“I was pleased with our first half,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said. “But we needed to hit the jump shots we hit in the first half in the second half.
“The third quarter for me was hard to swallow.”
Baldwyn’s fast tempo finally dented the Biggersville resolve in the third period, and a 3-pointer by Tevin Lindsey with 20 seconds left pushed the Bearcats ahead 50-48. The Lions responded with a shot at the buzzer by Darian Williams that tied the score at 50-50 entering the final eight minutes.
If Biggersville’s resolve was dented in the third quarter, Baldwyn broke it to begin the fourth quarter. Eighth grader Duke Upshaw scored seven points in a 9-0 Baldwyn run that pushed the Bearcats to a 59-51 lead.
Biggersville never recovered as Baldwyn hit 13 free throws in the final five minutes to secure the win.
“At halftime I told them we had played only four minutes of offense, and Biggersville only four minutes of defense,” McKay said. “We did a better job of running our offense in the second half.”
All five Baldwyn starters were in double figures, led by Dee Gates with 25 points. Stafford scored 25 for Biggersville.