By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BIGGERSVILLE – Biggersville fans were literally hanging on the edge of their seats all of Friday’s contest with H.W. Byers.
Good thing for them Daniel Simmons has quickness and can shoot free throws.
Simmons had two key steals, and sank three free throws in the final 29 seconds that gave Biggersville its winning margin of 67-64 in semifinal action of the Class 1A North tournament.
The victory punched a state tournament ticket for Biggersville (26-7), the Alcorn County team’s first trip to the Big House since 2002. Biggersville is now in the 7 p.m. tourney title game today to determine seeding.
“Those steals were huge,” said Biggersville coach Cliff Little, who then caught himself, and turned the attention to the team amongst the celebration of the win. “Our defense is what has gotten us to this point.
“The whole team takes pride in it, and they love to pressure the ball. This was very much a team effort tonight.”
Biggersville needed every ounce of defensive effort entering the fourth quarter, trailing Byers 54-49.
Utilizing its press, Biggersville basically controlled the first two minutes of the period, using the free throw line and knotting the score at 54-54. The contest was then tied five more times, the last with 1 minute, 3 seconds to play on a Jarvis Jones twisting shot from the lane for Byers at 64-64.
Under the pressure of the situation, Biggersville was very patient on its next possession, with Simmons fouled while dribbling on the perimeter with 29 seconds left. He only made the back the back end of the two shot situation, but just moments later made up for that with his second steal of the quarter, and eventually getting fouled.
Simmons swished both of these free shots, and the Biggersville defense did not allow Byers to get a shot off in the final 9 seconds of the contest.
“We knew they were in foul trouble entering the fourth quarter, so I told the team to push it, push it,” said Little, who guided East Webster to a state title in 2008, and is in his first year at Biggersville.
Dexter Stafford paced Biggersville with 27 points, and his team led 15-12 after the first quarter, and 34-32 at the half. A. J. Mabon led Byers with 12 points.