Photo by Chris ToddMitchell Saulsberry stretches for a rebound Monday at Mississippi Coliseum.
A gutsy Potts Camp team bounced back strong from a shaky start Monday at Mississippi Coliseum but came up short in the Class 1A state semi-finals.
The Cardinals overcame a 20-point deficit to tie the game at 60 midway through the fourth quarter, but then saw their season end with an 80-66 loss to East Marion.
“We battled back when a lot of people were counting us out,” coach Jeremy Dillard said. “I saw this group’s resiliency all year long.
“Then after we tied it, we had three crucial turnovers. I’m not sure if our legs just gave out or what, but they (the Eagles) were able to pull away.”
The Potts Camp offense struggled in the early going.
“The first quarter has not been our friend all year long,” he said. “We were sluggish – a lot to do with stage fright on that big court, I’m sure.”
Martavious Frost, the Cardinals’ dunking machine, got the team’s first two points via a slam. They trailed 8-2.
The deficit was 16-7 at the end of the opening quarter.
Kedavian Faulkner hit his second three of the game early in the second. Then the Cards hit a dry spell, as the Eagles went up 32-12 late in the first half and led 36-22 at the intermission.
In the third, big man Mitchell Saulsberry sparked the comeback. He converted three three-point plays as Potts Camp pulled to within five, 54-49 at the end of the period.
“The third quarter has been good to us all year long,” Coach Dillard said.
The rally continued in the fourth. Frost’s bucket tied the game at 58.
It was 60-60 with 4:45 left. Then down the stretch, the Eagles outscored the Cardinals 20-6 to take the 14-point win.
East Marion (26-5) will meet Okolona (29-2) for the Class 1A state championship.
Potts Camp, making its first trip to Jackson since 2005, completed its successful season with a 25-6 record.
Saulsberry was the main man for the Cardinals. He scored 25 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Faulkner followed with 16 points. Frost scored 10. Walter Hamilton was the second leading rebounder with eight, and he also had four blocks.
The Cardinals were 10 of 22 from the free-throw stripe.
“This was a wonderful learning experience for us,” Coach Dillard said. “We know now what it takes to win it all, and I think we will be back real soon.”
Potts Camp loses three seniors – Kylan Conners, Jabryan Pegues and Shun Gardner.
“That’s a super group of young men,” Dillard said. “They’ve done wonders for this program.”