By Brandon Speck
BALDWYN – With no shortage of story lines on Monday night, the No. 8 Baldwyn Bearcats beat No. 3 Biggersville 65-50 in a battle of defending champions.
Down 40-39, the Bearcats (21-3) scored the first 10 points of the fourth to make a nip-and-tuck battle look lopsided.
“The (desire) to rebound in the second half, compared to the first half was the difference,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “We improved tonight.”
Class 2A Baldwyn played its third game without former starter Martel Brown. Class 1A Biggersville (19-4) was playing its second game without guard Daniel Simmons.
“They hit a couple of back-breaking buckets and we didn’t communicate,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said.
Simmons is still a member of the Lions. “We look to get him back as soon as possible and we support him 100 percent,” Little said.
Starter Shaun Watson, Biggersville’s best defender, was out with the flu.
It might not have mattered who was guarding Baldwyn sophomore point guard Conner McKay. McKay scored a game-high 25 points, including 12 in the fourth, 8 of 8 from the free throw line, 9 of 10 for the game. Freshman Felix Hayes had 15, Duke Upshaw 10.
Jaylon Gaines led Biggersville with 13, Tyran Davis 11, Emmanuel Simmons 10.
Biggersville controlled the first-half boards, taking an eight-point lead on a 16-2 run.
“That’s what my daddy talks about a lot. That’s what he emphasizes,” said Conner McKay. “They killed us in the first half on rebounds. He let us know about it in the locker room.”
(G) Baldwyn 63, Biggersville 33: Baldwyn improved to 15-6 behind three players in double figures, led by Keontra Tyes’ 17. Timaya Stewart added 16, Haley Sandlin 14.
Jada Tubbs scored 10 for Biggersville.