In the Hunt: Tigers’ star lays in the game winner

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Saltillo’s inbounds play went nothing like it was supposed to, but it worked out well for the Tigers.
A.J. Hunt took an inbounds pass all the way to the rim for a game-winning lay-up in a 63-62 win against North Pontotoc Saturday in the Booneville Kiwanis Classic.
“One of my guys got it mixed up, but Hunt just took it and took it to the goal,” Saltillo coach Craig Lauderdale said.
The play was designed to go to Hunt anyway. His winning shot left 10 seconds on the clock. He had 19 points in the win as the Tigers improved to 11-3.
Tucker Wood had 18 and Brody Whitehead had 12 and four blocks for Saltillo.
It went back and forth at Northeast’s Bonner Arnold Coliseum. Brandon Gonzales made a tough bucket for a 62-59 North lead with 90 second to play. Hunt made a pair of free throws and North turned the ball over twice in the final seconds.
Marcus Green missed a well-defended 3 at the buzzer.
“It was the third game in three days and we got a little tired in the fourth quarter but I told them to suck it up and they did there at the end,” Lauderdale said.
The first half ended with four consecutive turnovers and Hunt making a tying lay-in for a 30-30 knot.
Both teams missed their share of transition baskets. North (11-4) built an 18-10 lead on a 3-pointer from Green, who had 17 points. Ben Shannon had 12.
“It’s nothing they did. It was more about us than anything else,” said North Pontotoc coach Chris Pettit. “I know at halftime we had missed about 14 points worth of layups and about the same in the second half, just easy looks.”
Saltillo scored five straight to end the third quarter. Reggie Miller hit a 3-pointer and Wood made a lay-up to put the Tigers ahead 48-44.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com