HOKES BLUFF — It’s not the play Cordell Hunt wanted his players to run, but he’ll take the end result.
Trailing by a point following a pair of missed Cherokee County free throws with 11.1 seconds left, Jacksonville’s Ron Wiggins allowed the ball to roll to mid-court off the inbound before swinging it left to DeAndre McCain, who then passed it to DeMarien Stewart on the base line. Stewart dribbled it back out and passed left to McCain. McCain took one dribble to his right and fired up a prayer as two Warrior defenders tried to close out.
The NBA-length 3-point attempt swished through the net to give Jacksonville a 45-43 win in the semifinals of the Class 4A, Area 9 tournament. It’s the first time the Golden Eagles advance to sub-regionals and play for an area tournament championship under Hunt, who is in his second year as head coach.
“I told them, 11 seconds is a long time to get a good shot,” Hunt said. “Now we didn’t run what I wanted to. I thought they were going to man, but they stayed in a zone and … man, DeAndre McCain, that’s clutch.”
Jacksonville’s top performers
—McCain, 12 points
—Wiggins, 10 points
—Macey Carr, 11 rebounds, nine points
Cherokee County’s top performers
—Luke Goss, 17 points, seven rebounds
—Riley Russell, 10 points
Hokes Bluff 46, White Plains 38: Chris Randall knew his team had to hit 3-point baskets to counter Hokes Bluff’s length inside, but White Plains just never found its shot as the Wildcats went 4 of 26 from long range.
White Plains stayed in the game until Landon Johnson took over for Hokes Bluff in overtime, when the senior accounted for seven of his 11 points. Meanwhile, the Eagles held the Wildcats without a basket until less than a minute remained.
“It was a really hard fought, low scoring, tough basketball game,” Randall said.
White Plains’ top performers
—Matthew Clay, 12 points, five rebounds
—Coleman Messer, eight points
—Gavin Burrage, seven points
Hokes Bluff’s other top performers
—Hayden Lipsomb, 15 points, six rebounds
—Braydon Hill, 10 points