Warriors lose heartbreaker to exit state tournament
EPC looked like a smooth running automobile for the first three quarters building a 13 point lead. The fourth quarter saw the wheels come off that automobile as Bigelow rallied behind a three-point barrage to take a 45-44 win over the Warriors in their 2A state tournament game this past Monday in Pangburn.
"We just broke down in the fourth quarter. I told them the shooters were 12 and 24 and they hit four big three-pointers, mostly uncontested down the stretch," EPC head coach McKenzie Pierce commented about the game.
Xzavier Reed opened the scoring with a jumper to give EPC a 2-0 lead. Bigelow scored the next six points to go up 6-2. The Warriors reeled off the next 11 points as Quinn Young and Reed hit back jumper in the lane to tie the game. Des Barnes scored off the fast break followed by five points from TJ Young with a three-ball and two free throws making it 13-6 EPC. Quinn Young scored inside after a Panther basket and Jamal Rodgers added a free throws to make the score 16-11 EPC at the end of one.
The Warriors 8-0 to start the second quarter pushed their lead to 24-11 as TJ Young scored on a layup before Barnes and Clay Malone hit back to back three-pointers. Bigelow cut the lead to 24-16 only to see Reed get a steal and easy basket followed by a three-ball from Barnes to make it 29-16 Warriors. The Panthers added a score late to make it 29-18 EPC at the half.
"We had great energy the first half, and that is what I've preached. I don't think our energy or effort could have been any better," Pierce said.
Malone had the hot hand in the third quarter scoring all nine points for the Warriors. Malone scored off an offensive rebound and drilled a three-pointer around a Bigelow basket to make it 34-20 Warriors. Malone's basket made inside made it 36-21 EPC before the Panthers cut the lead to 36-25. Malone got inside for another score making the score 38-25 heading to the fourth quarter.
Quinn Young's jumper and Barnes' basket off an offensive each came after a Bigelow three-pointer to make the score 42-31 Warriors. The Panther's 10-1 run cut the lead to 43-41 as Quinn Young hit a free throw for the Warriors. Malone's free throw made it 44-41 before Bigelow tied it at 44 with a three-pointer with 39 seconds left. Bigelow took the lead with a free throw with seven seconds left. Reed took the ball to the goal for the possible game winner but was whistled for a charge with two seconds left. Bigelow ran out the clock for the win.
"We shot 33 percent (5-15) from the free throw line and that hurt. We let them hang around and it usually comes back to haunt you," Pierce added.
Malone scored 13 points to lead the Warriors as Des Barnes added 10 points.