Mohawks Battle Tigers at State
The Piggott Mohawks strong late-season run ended in the first round of the 3A state tournament Tuesday afternoon, as they fell to the Charleston Tigers by a final of 72-48. The Tribe had qualified for the state tourney for the first time since 2001 by beating the Flippin Bobcats 41-40 in the first round of the 3A Region 3 basketball tournament at Yellville-Summit last Thursday. In the second round of play the Mohawks faced the Osceola Seminoles for the fourth time on the season, dropping a 67-50 decision. The loss moved the Piggott squad into the consolation final, where the road-weary squad fell to Valley Springs 65-35 Saturday afternoon.
As the third seed from 3A-3 the Tribe drew the Flippin Bobcats, second place finishers from 3A-1 East. Known as a low-scoring squad, the Bobcats tried hard to slow down the potent Mohawk offense, and had good success throughout most of the contest. But, the Tribe showed their maturity, and hung around long enough to set up a last second play for the win.
In keeping with their low-scoring game plan, Flippin took a 9-7 lead after the first quarter. Both teams scored 11 in the second frame, as the Bobcats took a 20-18 advantage into the locker room at the half.
But, the Mohawks came out in the second half and stepped-up the pressure, outscoring the Bobcats 14-10 in the frame, as they took a 32-30 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Down the stretch the Flippin squad continued to hold-on to the basketball, while outscoring the Mohawks 10-7 in the first eight minutes plus of the period. With the Bobcats on top 40-39 the Tribe called timeout to draw up a last second play. Coach David Reynolds called on senior Nicholas Harris, who had weathered a difficult night at the free throw line.
Harris took the pass on the right baseline, and drove to the basket but his shot rolled off the rim. Luckily, junior Peyton Mann was set to rebound, and dropped the ball in for the game winner as the buzzer sounded.
"We knew coming in that they were going to try to slow the pace down, so we put some things in to try to speed them up," Reynolds said of the emotional win. "And, we did a pretty good job of speeding them up in the first half. But, they hit a couple of threes we didn't expect."
Reynolds noted the Tribe's game plan was fairly simple.
"We felt we could attack the basket, but we didn't get into the double bonus until about five minutes left in the fourth quarter," he added. "But we told our kids--keep attacking, keep attacking. We knew their bigs didn't move their feet very well and we felt we could get them into foul trouble, and luckily we did."
The Piggott skipper also had high praise for his team, and their resiliency.
"We'd get up three or four, and then we'd let them back into the ballgame. You know, they hit a big three down there but compliments to my kids. That's what it's like to have six seniors on your team, they came over and said, okay--we're fixing to win this. They never got their heads down. A lot of teams would have quit after that dagger three, but we came out and executed."
Of the last second shot which won the game he added.
"You know we got a good shot on the first shot, and on the second one Peyton was right there where he needed to be and did exactly what he needed to do," he surmised. "You know, last year at the sports banquet I said if this team doesn't make it to the state tournament it's my fault. And, I truly believe that we're talented enough if we execute we can compete."
Reynolds was also quick to point to the effort of the team, rather than his coaching, as the key to this year's late season success.
"These kids work hard, it's a compliment to them because it's nothing I do," he explained. "They just play hard, they know what to do and they never quit."
Harris led the Tribe on the night with 13, while Mann's heroic shot also got him into double figures with 10, Quinton Mauldin finished with 9, Logan Dixon had 6 and Brayden Brewer was held to just 3 points. Leading the way for the Bobcats in the loss was Spencer Politte with 13.
The win over the Bobcats earned the Mohawks a second round show-down with 3A-3 champion Osceola, a team they had beaten one out of three times on the season. But, the Seminole rode a big third quarter to a lopsided win, sending the Tribe into the consolation final.
The two squads swapped baskets early in the going, as the Seminoles enjoyed the slimmest of leads, 17-16 after the first quarter. The second frame was much the same, with Osceola outscoring the Tribe 16-15 as they took a 33-31 advantage into the half.
But, the Seminole defense took over in the third period, as Osceola was able to shut down the Mohawk passing lanes. The result was an 18-4 advantage in the third period, as they took a 51-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
And, basically the fourth quarter was the same as the first and second, with Osceola outscoring the Mohawks by a single point in the frame, 16-15 to set the final at 67-50.
Leading the scoring for the Tribe was Harris with 12, while Darion Gilmore also had a dozen for the Seminoles. Rounding out the Piggott scoring effort were Brewer and Mann with 9 points each, Mauldin finished with 7, Dixon had 4, Noah May and Spencer Hardin finished with 3 each, Beau Jett finished with 2 and Brett Burns added a free-throw.
The loss to the Seminoles moved the Tribe into the consolation final at Yellville-Summit, and a mid-day contest Saturday with the Tigers of Valley Springs. The Tigers had entered the bracket as the top-seed from 3A-1 East, but had been upset in the semis by Marshall 38-35.
Looking somewhat flat after two nights of exhaustive play, the Tribe fell behind early in the contest and never recovered. Quarter leads for the Tigers were 12-8 after one, 26-15 at the half, 42-28 at the end of three as they posted the 65-35 win.
Harris was once again top scorer for the Mohawks with 12, while Brewer finished with 9, Mann had 8, Dixon finished with 4 and Mauldin added a field goal. Leading all scorers was Dalton Hogue for the Tigers with 24.
Monday morning the Mohawks headed-out to Jessieville, and the state 3A tournament. After a stop in Bald Knob for a shoot-around, they made the long trip to the Hot Springs area to prepare for the contest.
Their first round opponents were the Charleston Tigers, the champions from 3A Region 1. The Tigers had advanced to the state by beating Greenland 60-55 in the first round, Paris 62-57 in the semi-finals and Lamar in the title game 50-33 in their regional tourney.
A strong three-point shooting squad, the Tigers nailed a trey to begin the ballgame--answered a short time later by a Mauldin field goal to make it 3-2. The two teams swapped baskets early in the frame, with the Tigers stretching to a 14-8 lead by the end of the quarter. Charleston extended the lead to 16-8 as time ran down in the second, but Harris answered with a late three-pointer to cut it to 16-11.
The Tigers then went on a 12-8 run, as they took a 28-19 advantage into the locker room at the break.
In the second half the Tigers continued to dominate, as they rode a big third quarter advantage to extend the lead to 52-33 entering the fourth. And, despite the fact the Mohawks never relented, only turning to the subs in the final minutes of play, the Charleston squad powered to a 72-48 decision.
The Tigers continued to advance, and will play Cedar Ridge for the title. The complete schedule of all of this year's finals may be found elsewhere in this section.