Leaving the standing room only crowd of fans and foes alike in disbelief, the Bears staged a comeback of epic proportions Thursday night as they overcame a 34-point deficit, with 16:16 to play in the game, to stun the visiting Pearl River Wildcats 81-77 in MACJC South Division action.
The win moved the Bears to 10-1 overall and 1-1 in the South. Pearl River fell to 9-1 and 1-1.
The first half belonged to the visitors as they took an early 5-0 lead. An Aleksa Dobrijevic layup with 15:18 closed the gap to 9-8. Pearl River then took over all phases of the game, outscoring the Bears 37-11 the rest of the half to take a 46-19 lead at the end of the half.
Little seemed to have changed as the second half got underway as Pearl River outscored the Bears 14-7 to extend their lead to 60-26 with 16:16 left to play.
It was then that "something" happened. Starting with a free throw from Antonio Cowart, Jr., and ending with a Dobrijevic trey, the Bears scored eight straight to close to within 60-35 with 14:28 to play.
After a Pearl River free throw, the Bears began to roar in major fashion. Starting with an old-fashioned three-point play by Roydell Brown and ending with a Cowart, Jr., three-point field goal, the Bears went on a 19-0 tear to pull to within seven points, 61-54, with 11:13 on the clock.
Pearl River then scored the next four points to move extend their lead to 65-54 with 8:18 to go.
Three field goals from Brown and a John Knight III jumper then narrowed the Bears' deficit to 65-62 with 5:45.
Pearl River then scored six of the next eight points to take a 71-64 lead with 4:09 still to play.
It was then the Bears' momentum kicked into overdrive. A Jeremy Harrell started the home team on a 12-0 run. Back-to-back baskets from Cowart, Jr., gave the Bears a 73-71 lead with 3:18 left and he added another, with 1:17 to go, to make the score 75-71.
A Jerrod Rigby three pointer pulled Pearl River to within a pair, 76-74, with 0:58 on the clock. But, the Bears would not be denied with Knight III scoring the final five points of the game to give the Bears the unbelievable seven-point victory.
Immediately after the game, Bears head coach Thomas Gray said he was "at a loss for words." But, finding the words, he said, "I believe through the game of basketball tonight, we learned that no matter what you're up against in life that God has a plan."
"This was bigger than basketball tonight, I'll be honest," Gray continued. "Everybody's saying it's one of the most amazing things they've seen in sports and it was. But, there was obviously an architect behind it."
Brown scored 26 points for the Bears to top all scorers. Cowart, Jr., followed with 21 points while Knight III netted 16. The Bears hit 14 of 23 free throws.
Rigby and Eric Thornton, Jr., both had 18 points to pace Pearl River. The visitors hit 12 of 16 free throws.
The Bears return to South Division play on January 16 when they visit to Meridian Eagles. The game is set to get underway at 7:30.
Michael D. Gunnell
SMCC Sports Information Director