Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chiefs squander lead in region title loss


By Christopher Dunn

Connor Nash and the Chiefs couldn\'t hold off a furious rally by Mundy\'s Mill. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

This loss is going to stick with McIntosh for a while. Playing in their first region championship game, the Chiefs squandered a massive first half lead in a 79-77 loss to the Mundy's Mill Tigers.
McIntosh had high hopes of a region crown. They had the game within their grasp, but mistakes washed it away. A massive 22 point lead in the first half would be wiped off the boards by a tough Tiger team and some bad luck. Mundy's Mill grabbed the game's first lead at 3-0. They wouldn't be in front again until 71-70. They would trail again until they scored the game's winning bucket with 11 seconds left.
There wasn't room to mince words after the final buzzer sounded. "It was a colossal meltdown," said McIntosh coach Jason Eisele. "We're still young. We just weren't ready for the moment."
A talented Chief team can make this loss a turning point. The sour taste left from this game can push them to higher heights, to never feel that way again.
They won't have much time to dwell on the loss. The Chiefs will host an opening round game of the state tournament, a first for the program, on Saturday.
The recovery can extend farther down the road too. They'll have the core to keep getting better. While they'll lose some key players to graduation, including sharpshooter Alex Cervantes, McIntosh will return the key trio of sophomores Jordan Lyons, Will Washington, and Dishon Lowery next season. When the game tightens up, they can look to this disappointment and battle through to victory.
"We'll recover from it," said Eisele.
For a quarter and a half it looked like the Chiefs would run the Tigers out of the gym. Cervantes got the team's first points on a three off a kick out by Washington. Jonathan Hall added his own trey, banking high off the glass, to keep up the heat. Hall added another bucket late in the first off a no look pass from Terrance Gaines.
A 22-9 lead after the first quarter ballooned to a 22 point advantage before Mundy's Mill upped the pressure. The Tigers full court press and all-around physical play got to the Chiefs as they whittled the lead down.
"My hat goes off to Mundy's Mill. They played their tails off. They kinda wore us down," said Eisele.
Mundy's Mill went on a 18-6 run late to slice the deficit to 43-33 heading into the half.
The physicality of the game was ratcheted up in the second half as Mundy's Mill pushed and pressed their way back into the game. The teams would trade technical fouls as the McIntosh lead was chipped to single digits. Only a beautiful fadeaway with contact that Lyons turned into a three point play would keep the Chiefs in front 64-55 heading into the fourth.
Mundy's Mill finally grabbed their first lead late since the game's first point when a dunk put them up 71-70. McIntosh responded well with a 7-0 run. The Chiefs had chances to ice the game, but turnovers and a pair of missed free throws with 39 seconds left the door open. The Tigers went on their own run and finished it off with a layup to go ahead 79-77 with 11 seconds left. Lyons had a chance for a winner, but his pull up three at the buzzer clanked off the front of the rim.
Jordan Lyons led McIntosh with 24 points. Alex Cervantes added 17 with both Jonathan Hall and Will Washington chipping in nine.
Mundy's Mill's Jared Tate led all scorers with 25 points. Malik Osborne and Jonathon Celestine added 11 and 10 points respectively.
McIntosh will to bounce back today when they host Lakeside, Evans in the opening round of the state tournament.


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