Bearcats’ Barber mans the boards in decisive third quarter

basketball_icon_greenBy Adam Gore

Special to the Journal

NEW SITE – Chet Barber’s name won’t appear in the box score in Baldwyn’s 62-58 win over Calhoun City, but there was no doubting his impact on the North Mississippi Class 2A championship game.

Baldwyn’s big man grabbed eight rebounds, five on the offensive side of the floor, in the third quarter to help the Bearcats outscore the Wildcats 20-7 and take a 45-32 lead into the final frame.

“A lot is said about players that score in double figures and not enough is said about guys that can block out and get double-digit rebounds,” said Baldwyn coach Jason McKay. “His performance in the third quarter was really big for us.”

Both had already qualified for the state tournament, defending champ Baldwyn for the fourth time in five seasons. It will face Heidelberg Friday at 2:30 p.m. Calhoun City plays SV Marshall at 10:30 a.m.

Barber, a junior who before transferring to Baldwyn called this New Site floor home, finished the game with five points and 16 rebounds before fouling out with 3:03 left.

“Rebounding killed us in the third quarter,” said Calhoun City head coach Daren Coffey. “Their big man gave them second and third chance opportunities, and that was the difference in the game.”

David Draine hit a 3 to pull the Wildcats (22-11) within 61-56 with 36.4 left in the game, but Baldwyn sophomore Duke Upshaw put the game on ice from the free throw line.

“We knew Calhoun City wasn’t going to go away without a fight,” said McKay. “We started turning the ball over and they got back in the game in a hurry, but thankfully we were able to make enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.”

Felix Hayes led Baldwyn with 18, Conner McKay had 14 and Romaro Crump added 13.

Draine led all scorers with 20, Levarious Varndo had 15 and Andrikus Ezell chipped in 10 for the Wildcats.