By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Myrtle’s quest for a state championship came down to a last-second shot … that the Hawks never got off.
With 1.6 seconds remaining in their MHSAA Class 1A state tournament title game against Coldwater, the Hawks, trailing by two points, had to travel the length of the court to tie or win.
Jimel Judon’s inbounds pass was a rocket to David Wilson on the right wing. However, his pass inside to Justin Jordan was batted away at the buzzer, giving the Cougars a 73-71 victory Thursday before an estimated crowd of 1,400 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“We were trying to get it to David (Wilson),” Myrtle coach Jonathan Ashley said. “He’s so unselfish. He saw J.J. open on the backside.
“He should have just pulled up and shot it.”
Coldwater (24-8) could have sealed the win earlier, but the Cougars missed 7-of-8 free throws in the final 50 seconds.
Myrtle (26-13), which defeated their Division 3-1A rivals for the North Mississippi championship two weeks ago, trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half.
However, the Hawks erased Coldwater’s big lead behind Judon’s 13-point scoring effort in the third period.
Judon, who scored a team-high 19 points, helped cut Coldwater’s 10-point halftime lead to three points, 57-54, heading into the final quarter.
A layup by Jordan actually cut the Cougars’ lead to 55-54 with 59 seconds showing in the third.
Two free throws by Russ Yates with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter gave the Hawks their biggest lead of the half, 27-21.
Coldwater answered to close out the half with a 20-3 run to motor to a 40-30 halftime lead.
The Cougars, playing with 6-foot-6 starting center Nick Coppage on the bench in foul trouble, rallied behind his inside replacement, 6-7 Jerry Johnson, and the shooting of guard Jeremy Scott.
Scott scored 14 points in the opening half and connected on a 3-pointer in the Cougars’ run.
Johnson scored six points and grabbed three rebounds, all in Coldwater’s go-ahead second quarter.
Myrtle scored 11 of its 15 second-quarter points on free throws while Coldwater hit on 9-of-10 freebies during its run. In all, the two teams were called for 27 fouls in the first half – Myrtle 14, Coldwater 13.
Beau Cummings and Jordan scored 15 apiece for Myrtle.
Coldwater was led by Scott with 22.
n Get more in Saturday’s Daily Journal.