Bombers Advance In All A Before Falling To Vikings
The Ballard Memorial Bombers ended a five game skid in the opening round of the All A Tournament against Hickman County on January 22nd at Paducah Tilghman.
The opening quarter had three lead changes and six ties that had the game knotted at 12 all after the opening eight minutes. The Falcons reclaimed the lead 14-12 to start the second quarter. Ballard Memorial’s Zack McAfee came off the bench to hit a three for a Bomber one point advantage. The Falcons again would respond for the next four points to go back up 18-15. Cody Newton scored to start the Bomber run that would allow them to retake the lead. McAfee would get a couple of free throws to provide the Bombers with the 19-18 lead. He would follow that up with this second trey for the 22-18 lead. The Bomber run would see the Bombers end the quarter outscoring the Falcons 14-5 and saw Ballard Memorial with the 29-23 lead at the half.
Hickman County would trim the lead to two to start the second half when Keagan Cooper hit a three and Dre Bledsoe would have an offensive rebound put back to push the lead back to seven. The Falcons would again cut the lead to four before Clay Newton hit a bucket, his brother Cody hit one of two free throws and Toler Terrell would get a pair of free throws for the 44-35 Bomber lead after three quarters of play.
The Bombers looked in control outscoring the Falcons 7-2 to start the final quarter to push the lead to 51-37 with just over five minutes remaining. Then things started to fall apart for the Bombers. Hickman County’s Billy Speed would hit a trey with 3:14 remaining to cap Falcon 11-0 run to cut the lead to 51-48. The Bombers were finally able to break the Falcon press and McAfee would get free for a bucket to end the Bomber drought with 2:57 remaining. Hickman would again trim the lead to three with 50.7 seconds remaining when Bledsoe drove the lane and got the bucket and drew the foul. However, he could not convert the three point opportunity. The Bombers stopped the Falcons and again Bledsoe would get another bucket to put the game away with just under 30 seconds remaining. The Bombers would go on to claim the 60-52 win. “It was a total team effort and those guys that came off the bench, they were ready to play,” said Coach Matt Botner. Senior McAfee echoed those sentiments saying, “It was a team effort and we had a really good practice this week and we came out ready to play.” Bledsoe had 16 points, McAfee ended with 12 and Clay Newton had 10. Keagan Cooper had nine, Cody Newton added seven, with Lee Chander adding four and Toler Terrell finished with two
Botner said of the semifinal match up against the top seeded St. Mary Vikings, “We cannot give up the quick three. It’s a matter of us putting the ball in the hole on the other end and we cannot have a bad quarter against them.” The Bomber’s looked to carry the momentum over from their quarterfinal victory into the game on Friday night against the Vikings. However, the Bombers could not pick up where they left off. After the Bombers scored the opening field goal of the game, the Vikings completely shut the Bombers down. St. Mary would score the next 16 points of the quarter to take the 16-2 lead after the opening period. Then they scored the first eight points of the second period to take the 24-2 lead. The Bombers ended the ten minute scoring drought with a Bledsoe field goal leave the Viking lead at 24-4. St. Mary defense continued to play havoc on the Bomber offense that saw the Bombers trail 34-6 at the break. “I just challenged them,” said Botner during his halftime talk with the players as he added, “I told them to give everything they have.”
The Bombers would put up a fight in the second half. After giving up a trey to start the second half to push the Viking lead to 31, the Bombers would start their rally. Bledsoe would score the next nine points for the Bombers to leave the Viking lead at 37-15. The Bombers would outscore St. Mary 18-11 in the quarter but still trailed 45-24 to end the quarter. The Bombers would continue to battle and showed their Bomber pride. The Bombers ended up outscoring the Vikings by 18 to end the game as Keagan Cooper put an exclamation point with a dunk to end the game. The rally fell short as the Bombers dropped the semifinal game 60-47 to the Vikings. Coach Botner put things into perspective saying “I think we have some confidence now. Anytime you can compete with a team like St. Mary and beat them in the second half, that is a positive. But ultimately we want to win the scoreboard at the end and we still did not do that.”
The Bombers were led by Bledsoe’s 11. Toler Terrell had another nice game off the bench scoring nine with Cooper ending with eight. Lee Chandler had six, Clay Newton had four, while Cody Newton, TJ Wray, and Trevor Langston each had three. Dre Bledsoe was selected to the All Tournament Team for his performance while Steven McGowan was awarded Ballard Memorial’s All A Academic Award.
The Bombers stand at 2-9 on the year and they start the week with a rematch with Hickman County on Tuesday the 27th and Homecoming on the Friday the 31st against Livingston Central.