Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Byng — In a game where it seemed like every single fourth-quarter possession mattered, the Byng Pirates would like to have do-overs on their final two.
The Pirates saw two inbounds passes in the closing seconds go awry, allowing the Purcell Dragons to escape the Bill Koller Fieldhouse with an exasperating 44-43 win Saturday night in the boys championship game of the 2014 Byng Pirate Invitational.
The Pirates settled for second, falling to 7-3 on the year, while Purcell (5-3) left town as the champions of the first regular-season tournament held at Byng since the Alan Simpson era.
“It’s pretty disappointing, wanting to win this first tournament for our kids, just for the memories of it. It’s a disappointing outcome ... I’m not disappointed with the way my kids played. I thought we played hard,” said Byng head coach Trent Miller.
In the girls championship game, host Byng couldn’t overcome early foul trouble and untimely turnovers in a surprising 49-32 loss to Madill. The Lady Pirates had defeated the Lady Wildcats 56-51 earlier this season in Madill.
Purcell 44, Byng 43
The Pirates had the ball with a chance to win the game three times in the closing seconds.
Miller called time out with 14.2 ticks left, but Byng didn’t get off a shot before Miller burned another timeout with 3.9 seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbounds play, Purcell’s Barrett Huey stole the pass, and it looked like that would be the dagger that ended the game for Byng.
However, when Purcell tried to make a long pass on its inbounds throw with 1.5 showing, the ball hit the fieldhouse ceiling, resulting in an automatic turnover. That gave Byng one final chance.
This time, the inbounds pass was a little too high for Reid Wall — who appeared to be in a good position for a game-winning shot in the lane — to handle. By the time he tracked it down, time had expired.
“There were some things here and there we could have done better to give ourselves a better opportunity to win,” Miller said. "Sometimes defeats are necessary evils. Our execution has to be better down the stretch. That being said, we also made some plays to give ourselves a chance to get right back in it.”
Byng trailed 42-37 after Purcell’s Cody Mooneyham hit two free throws with 4:33 left.
The Pirate quickly rallied, thanks to a pair of big plays by Hunter Capps. He lobbed a nice pass to Reid Wall that resulted in a layup with 4:19 to play, grabbed an offensive rebound and made a strong move to the basket that turned into an old-fashioned three-point play to knot the score at 42-all with 3:36 left.
Tanner Martin broke the tie with his layup off an assist by Tanner Helton to put Purcell on top 44-42. Reid Wall followed with a free throw with just 19.4 seconds left to get Byng within a single point and set up the wild finish.
Byng didn’t do itself any favors from the free throw line, finishing 7-of-17 compared to 13-of-17 for the Dragons.
“The biggest thing for us — and we actually talked about it during the game — is free throws. We have to knock some free throws down and I think if we do that, obviously we win the game.”
The game was knotted at 32-32 heading into the fourth quarter. After Helton scored the first basket of the period, Byng freshman Darian Davis drained a 3-pointer to give the Pirates their last lead of the game with 6:57 left. Huey responded with a 3-pointer of his own to put Purcell on top for good at 37-35.
A Jacob Birdshead 3-pointer midway through the second quarter gave Byng its biggest lead of the game at 19-15. But the hosts needed a buzzer-beating basket by Reid Wall to carry a slim 25-23 lead into the halftime break.
Reid Wall scored a game-high 18 points for Byng and had five rebounds and four steals. No other Byng player scored more than six.
Purcell was just the opposite. Only four players scored for the Dragons, but each one hit double figures. Huey scored 12, Martin and Mooneyham added 11 each and Helton followed with 10. The Dragons didn’t get a single point off the bench.
Madill 49, Byng 32
After trailing 25-17 at the break, the Byng girls got within six in the third period but couldn’t get any closer.
“We cut it to six and turned it over three times (in a row),” said Byng head coach Matt Fike. “When we chipped away and gave ourselves a chance to get back in it, we got careless with the ball. Part of that was we had kids in positions that they hadn’t been in before. We just have to grow up from it and try and be better next time.”
Guards Shadley Grove and Asya Tims both picked up three first-half fouls, and the Byng offense didn’t run smoothly very often after that.
“We got in early foul trouble, and that totally disrupted our substitution pattern. It disrupted our offense, and we just got into too big of a hole,” Fike said.
Madill built its lead back to 37-26 entering the fourth quarter and scored the first eight points of the period to effectively put the game out of reach. Byng (7-3) failed to score on its first eight possessions of the final period.
Fike gave the Lady Wildcats (5-3) a lot of the credit.
“Madill’s good, for one thing. Anybody that thinks Madill is not very good is a poor judge of basketball,” he said.
Kaylen Sweat, daughter of Madill coach Hugh Don Sweat, scored a game-high 17 points, while Brenna Green followed with 14.
Hill scored nine points before fouling out. Grove also scored nine points, all in the second half via a 3-pointer and a 6-of-6 showing from the free-throw line.
Madill hit 18-of-22 free throws, compared to a solid 16-of-22 showing for the Lady Pirates.
Byng hosts Tishomingo tonight and entertains Bethel on Friday.