by Michael D. Gunnell
Southwest Sports Information
Withstanding a furious late-second half rally by the host Jones County Bobcats, the Bears picked up a much-needed MACJC South Division win in Ellisville Monday night, 82-74.
The win moved the Bears to 15-5 overall and, at 6-5, into fourth place in the South (the top four teams advance to the state tournament in two weeks) and gave them a rare season sweep of the Bobcats. Jones County dropped to 11-9, 6-5.
The Bobcats took an early 5-0 lead in the game before a Jeremy Harrell layup started the Bears off on a 13-6 run that left them on top 13-11 with 14:15 before halftime. After Jones County went on top 14-13, a Roydell Brown trey helped the Bears score 16 of the next 23 points to move ahead 29-21 with 10:41 on the clock.
The Bobcats then decided turnabout was fair play as they scored 16 of the next 24 points to leave the teams tied at 37-all with 3:18 left before halftime.
The teams then traded baskets the rest of the way before an Antonio Cowart, Jr., long-range jumper left the Bears with a 42-39 advantage at intermission.
With 15:50 left in the game, the Bears held a 51-49 lead. They then seemed to put the game away when another Cowart, Jr., three pointer and a pair of Robert Boyd free throws started them on a 16-0 run that left them with a 67-49 lead with 8:27 remaining on the clock.
But, the Bobcats were not quite ready to call it quits as they outscored the Bears 21-6 over the next 5:37 to cut the Bears' lead to 73-68 with 2:53 still to play. The Bears then fortunately regained their composure as they scored nine of the final points of the game to escape with the eight-point victory.
"I'm excited about the way our guys came here and were able to take care of business on the road," said Bears head coach Thomas Gray. "Going to Ellisville (to play) Jones County is always a tough game. They're a really good ball team and a well-coached ball team. We turned the ball over too much late (in the game), but it's definitely something we can look at and get better at as we go on. At the end of the day, I'm just really excited that we were able to walk away with the win."
Harrell scored 21 points to pace the Bears. Brown turned in a double double, with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Cowart, Jr., and Boyd also scored in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively. The Bears hit 25 of 36 free throws.
The Bobcats' Winceton Edwards led all scorers with 25 points. He and his teammates combined to go 12-18 at the free throw line.
The Bears make travel to Wesson for their next contest, and play their final road contest of the regular season, to face arch-rival Co-Lin. The South Division matchup is scheduled for an 8:00 tip.