Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
Calvin — The top-seeded Roff Tigers missed 23 — yes 23 — free throws, were out-rebounded 51-42 and hit just 2-of-10 from the 3-point stripe.
Somehow the Tigers overcame it all, turned back a gutsy Allen upset bid and pushed past the No. 4 seed Mustangs 49-38 during an intense Pontotoc Conference Tournament semifinal game Wednesday night in Calvin.
“We practice them all the time. It looked like they were aiming after the first miss or two,” Roff head coach Bo Thomason said of the free throw futility. “I think they wanted it pretty bad tonight. Allen is always a battle, and they wanted to beat them. I understand, but 23 free throws is a lot.”
Second seed Asher got a first-half test from No. 5 seed Tupelo before using a big third quarter to ease past the Tigers 59-45.
Roff and Asher will collide in Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. boys championship contest while Tupelo and Allen will duke it out for third place at 4:30 p.m. The boys consolation title game will pit Stonewall versus Vanoss at 1:30 p.m.
Roff 49, Allen 38
Roff jumped out to leads of 9-2 and 14-6 in the first quarter and ironically took an 11-point lead at 21-10 on a pair of free throws by Zach Lewis at the 6:06 mark of the second frame.
C.J. Johnson’s fast break layup — started by Lewis after a long rebound and pass downcourt — put Roff on top 29-14 with two and a half minutes left in the first half.
Allen got a 3-pointer from Drew Black and a basket inside by Zane Erickson to end the quarter and make it 29-19 at intermission.
The Mustangs got within seven (39-32) on back-to-back buckets by Erickson with 4:59 to play before Roff finally salted the game away.
It was a game where nothing came easy for the Tigers, especially in the second half.
“They’re always going to keep fighting. I expect that from Greg’s teams,” Thomason said of the scrappy Mustangs. “Like I told my kids in the locker room, the fact that we’re talking about (the 23 missed free throws) after a win is always a good thing. But to win the games we’re going to need to win, we’re going to have to make some free throws.”
Roff received 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from Lonnie Petersen while Hunter Larsh also reached double figures with 10 for the Tigers. Dalton Madden just missed double digits with nine for the winners.
Tommy Peay got loose for a game-high 15 points to go with 10 boards for Allen while Erickson contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
While Roff attempted 36 free throws, Allen — which had three players foul out — finished 5-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Asher 59, Tupelo 45
The game was knotted at 16-16 at halftime but Asher scored the first 14 points of the third quarter to take control.
“Obviously, they whipped us in the third quarter. We didn't defend at all the second half,” said Tupelo head coach Clay Weller. “We had a poor offensive showing everywhere. We're much better than we played last night, but give Asher credit they outworked us.”
Tupelo would actually jump out to an 11-5 first-quarter lead before Asher reeled off a 33-12 run over the middle two frames to take a 38-23 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
Tim Johnson erupted for a game-high 24 points to pace the Indians while three other Asher players also reached double figures. Tanner Andrews score 13, Hunter Fowler added 11 and Caleb Dubler chipped in 10 for the winners.
Corey McCollum scored 12 points for Tupelo while John Umsted chipped in 10. Josh Gragg grabbed nine rebounds for the Tigers.