Alex Cervantes and McIntosh are headed to their first region title game.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
After being delayed due to last week’s inclement weather, the region 4-AAAAA tournament continued on Monday with the semifinals.
In boys action, top-seeded Whitewater was upset by number three Mundy’s Mill 63-58 despite a game-high 25 points from Phil Cofer.
“Both teams played at a high intensity,” said Whitewater coach Mark Fisher. “They just made a few more shots than we did.”
From start to finish Cofer carried the Wildcats. His impact was felt defensively with blocks and rebounds and offensively with monster dunks and timely threes that kept Whitewater ahead on the scoreboard for much of the contest.
However, it was the three ball, especially in the third quarter, that kept Mundy’s Mill in game and ultimately helped them steal the game. Mundy’s Mill reserve Franklin Keesee nailed three straight treys to help the Tigers cut a double-digit Whitewater lead to just two at 39-37 with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter. For the remainder of the quarter the Tigers were locked in on both sides of the court as they took the lead before pushing it to 46-38 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, after the Wildcats tied the game at 53-53, Keesee nailed another deep, contested three pointer that put Mundy’s Mill up 56-53 with 1:54 left in the game. Whitewater continued to battle, but the damage was too far gone as Mundy’s Mill outlasted them in the final minute.
“They killed us with threes and we missed some layups,” Fisher said. “But we’ve made a good run and we got into state. I’d prefer it to be at home, but we are going on the road and step back up.”
Phil Gardner finished with 14 points for the Wildcats, while Darius Wheeler led Mundy’s Mill with 14. Keesee hit four of the six Mundy’s Mill’s threes and finished with 13 points.
The host school, McIntosh, outlasted Mt. Zion by a final of 50-48 to move into the region championship game.
“We did’t play our best game, but I was real happy that we were able to play with a little poise at the end,” said McIntosh coach Jason Eisele. “That’s something that we have been getting better at as the season has gone on.”
Jordan Lyons led all scorers with 16 points for the Chiefs and his teammate Alex Cervantes followed that up with 13 points. The Chiefs withstood a fourth quarter rally that saw the Bulldogs at one point hold a 42-41 lead. Over the final 5:40 of the game McIntosh outscored Mt. Zion 9-6 thanks to a big trey by Cervantes and clutch baskets by Lyons in the paint.
Mt. Zion’s Paul Miller had a team-high 14 points and Ari Zorns followed that up with 13 points, including the go-ahead free throw for the Bulldogs.
The win not only puts McIntosh boys in the region title game for the first in school history, but also insured that they will play host for the first round of the state tournament.
“This has never happened on the boys side,” Eisele said of his team's historic accomplishments . “That’s why we’re proud of this group of boys for pushing the envelope.”
The Starr’s Mill girls fell in a heartbreaker to Drew high after they watched the Titans erase an eight point halftime deficit to win 51-45.
“My girls played hard,” said Starr’s Mill coach Shane Ratliff. “I wish we would’ve gotten a little better officiating, but I can’t blame everything on them. We still should have come and played a good second half to win the game.”
Starr’s Mill was clicking on all cylinders as they outscored Drew (12-7, 14-11) in the first two quarters to take a 26-18 lead into halftime. Senior Katie Wilson had an explosive first half for the Panthers with 15 points including three treys. In the second half the reverse was true for Starr’s Mill as it was outscored 17-13 in the third quarter before getting shellacked in the fourth quarter 16-6.
The main reason for the Titans comeback was the dominant play inside of Lakia Sims and timely threes from Jayda Hargrove. Hargrove finished with 14 points, but Sims was the focus of Drew’s offense with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Katie Wilson led all scorers with 26 points.