Junction City pulls away in fourth quarter to defeat Marked Tree 66-57
Junction City outscored Marked Tree 23-16 in the final quarter to pull away for a 66-57 victory, ending the Indians' season in the quarterfinals of the 2A State Tournament Thursday night at Cedar Ridge High School in Newark.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout the night, with the Indians holding a 15-12 edge after the first period behind the strong inside play of junior Allen Buchanan and senior Gunner Pitts.
Marked Tree and Junction City traded three pointers to begin the second quarter. Dorian Evans hit back to back treys for the Dragons, tying the game at 20-20. Thadious Moore hit a pair of three pointers while Pitts threw in two free throws to give the Indians a 23-20 edge with 6:00 left before intermission. Marked Tree pushed its lead to as many as five points before the Dragons rallied, going on a late 7-2 run to tie the game 29-29 at the half.
Junction City grabbed the lead early in the third quarter on a bucket by Shaquille Hunter, but Marked Tree rallied on back to back three pointers by Kedrick Tyler and Darious Ivy to tie the game 35-35 at the 4:52 mark. The game see-sawed back and forth the rest of the quarter before a pair of free throws late in the period gave the Dragons a 43-41 advantage heading into the final frame.
The Dragons began the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to pull ahead 51-43 and the Indians could never draw closer than five points the rest of the way.
"We didn't match their physicality in the second half," said Indian Coach Barbara Wilburn-Covington. "It seemed like we were one shot and done. We didn't rebound well enough. But like I told our guys in the locker room, no one ever expected us to get this far this year. There are a lot of teams in the state that wish they were in our spot. I am proud of these young men. They have worked so hard. All the credit tonight goes to Junction City. They did the job. Our two seniors, Thadious Moore and Gunner Pitts have been with me since the seventh grade. They have stuck it out. They are both great kids who come to practice and work hard every day. They gave it their all and they have nothing to hang their heads about," said Wilburn-Covington.
Marked Tree (22-9) was led by Ivy and Pitts who scored 16 points apiece. Moore tallied 10, Buchanan netted nine while Daniel Rucker added six.
Evans poured in a game high 23 points for the Dragons while Hunter and Chris Williams added 11 points apiece.
Marked Tree advanced to the quarterfinals with a 55-49 victory Wednesday afternoon over County Line. The Indians trailed throughout most of the game, dropping behind 10-6 after the first quarter, 26-24 at the half and 38-33 after three quarters of play.
Marked Tree staged a fourth quarter rally behind the offensive firepower of Darious Ivy who scored 15 points during the period to help propel the Indians to a six point victory.
Ivy poured in 21 points to lead Marked Tree while Buchanan added 14. Rucker netted nine, Pitts scored seven while Moore and Chris Montague added two points each.
Trent Gattis led County Line with 13 points while Justin Gattis and Evan Franklin added 12 points apiece.