By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
SALTILLO – The defending Class 2A state champion Baldwyn Bearcats are accustomed to the pressure.
That might have been the edge Tuesday as the Saltillo Tigers pushed the Bearcats to the limit before Baldwyn pulled out a 51-48 victory.
“I thought we limited them to one shot, and that was a difference in the game,” Bearcats head coach Jason McKay said. “And Felix Jones hit some huge shots for us.”
The Bearcats (8-1) pushed an early advantage to 21-6 early in the second quarter, aided by some key points from Martel Brown and Conner McKay. But Saltillo (8-2) found its legs despite some foul trouble, pulling within 26-21 late in the half with David Little hitting seven points for the Tigers during the run.
The game was closely contested in the third quarter, with Saltillo taking a 36-34 lead on a Karter Meeks field goal. Baldwyn reclaimed the lead, going up 43-40 with Chet Barbers’ tip in at the buzzer. The freshman Hayes was scoring seven points in the period, and a Chet Barbers tip in at the buzzer pushed Baldwyn to a 43-40 lead.
Baldwyn took a 47-40 lead early in the fourth and Saltillo could never trim past three points the rest of the way.
“They’ve got experience, and I told the guys they were going to come out and hit us in they face,” Tigers head coach Craig Lauderdale said. “I told them we’ve got to keep fighting.
“I’m pleased we’re learning, getting better.”
Malik Randolph paced Saltillo with 13.
(G) Baldwyn 40, Saltillo 27: The Lady Bearcats (6-1) closed out the contest on a 13-0 run to break open a really tight game.
Neither squad led by more than three in the middle quarters, with Baldwyn carrying a 25-24 edge into the fourth period. The game was tied at 27-27 with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left.
Timaya Stewart and Keontra Tyes each scored 14 to lead the Lady Bearcats.