By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
JACKSON – Ian Burress opened the MHSAA Class 2A championship game with a 3-pointer for Baldwyn. Not much else fell for the Bearcats in a 43-37 loss against S.V. Marshall at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Baldwyn shot 26.5 percent and couldn’t get within eight points for much of the second half, except for a too-late push in the final seconds.
“As a team, we didn’t shoot the ball extremely well,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “Sometimes the Coliseum can alter shots. When you play your last game of the year, I think a lot of times you shouldn’t talk about what you didn’t do, you ought to talk about what our kids have done.”
What Baldwyn (31-3) did was make the title game despite the loss of leading scorer Reggie Patterson for the season, overcome the loss of Burress for a few games early on and big man Diquan Agnew prior to the division tournament.
Thursday though, a taller Marshall (27-6) team beat the Bearcats for the second straight time, 66-61 in overtime in the North finals on Feb. 25.
“Give our kids credit,” McKay said. “Would y’all have thought we would have been here? And that’s because of the heart and character of our players.”
Baldwyn led 7-2 after a quarter but didn’t hit another 3 until Dee Gates’ with 40.7 seconds to play. That cut what was a 10-point lead to 39-34. Marshall answered, then Burress hit from long range to shrink the lead as far as it would go.
Baldwyn hit only 3 of 21 from behind the arc and 8 of 15 from the free throw line. Marshall had the bulk of its 17 turnovers in the third quarter but Baldwyn converted only three points in a stretch of five straight.
Marshall, located in Tchula, shot 45.9 percent for the game and hit only 1 of 7 from behind the arc. Gates finished with a game-high 16 and eight rebounds. Duke Upshaw had 11.
Marshall got 12 and eight boards from Marquis Vance.
“Baldwyn never dies. Even when we had them up 10, they came down and hit the two big 3s,” Marshall coach Antwayn Patrick said. “I want to give them credit. They are as fundamentally sound as it comes.
“We withstood a poor first quarter and played well the rest of the way.”