By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Jason McKay knew Thursday night’s MHSAA Class 2A boys basketball state championship game would come down to the final few possessions.
Unfortunately for his Baldwyn players, they just couldn’t capitalize in the end and West Bolivar held on to win 51-49 in front of 3,000 fans at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“We knew it would be a game of possessions, and it was a game of possessions,” McKay said before leaving the court after Thursday’s game. “It just came down to a few plays.
“Tip your hat to them. They played a great game.”
Trailing 51-49 with 22 seconds left in the game, West Bolivar gave Baldwyn a chance to tie or pull ahead. The Eagles committed an inbounds violation, turning the ball over to the Bearcats.
But as it seemed to be the case for the Bearcats the entire game, they just couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, turning the ball over before they could get a shot off.
“We knew it probably would just because of how defensive-minded both teams were,” McKay said of the game coming down to the final possessions.
No magic at end
The Eagles let their opponent back into the game several times, as the Bearcats battled back from deficits of eight and six points to tie the game. Baldwyn, however, just couldn’t pull ahead.
West Bolivar (25-8) led 27-19 in the second quarter before Baldwyn pulled to within two, 29-27, at halftime.
The Eagles took a 40-34 lead on a Cord Walker (game-high 17 points) basket in the final two minutes of the third quarter.
An Ian Burress 3-pointer would pull Baldwyn even at 40-all with 6:30 remaining in the contest.
As West Bolivar went ahead, Baldwyn would pull even in the final quarter. The Eagles would take the lead for good with 3:08 to play when Millaun Brown hit a free throw to give his team a 45-44 lead.
From then on, the Eagles outscored the Bearcats 6-2 to stop Baldwyn from winning its ninth state title.
Reggie Patterson scored 15 points to lead Baldwyn.