Bombers Split The Week
The Ballard Memorial Bombers looked to make it two wins in a row over Hickman County on Tuesday night, January 28th at Hickman County. It was a game that had many similarities to the All A quarterfinal game that the Bombers had won the week before. Just like last week, the game was tied at the end of the first quarter. The game had four ties in the opening eight minutes and the score was tied at 11. Again like the All A, Zack McAfee got a big three to provide the Bombers with some breathing room. Keagan Cooper got another trey for the Bombers to push the lead to 19-13. In the All A, the Bombers led by six at the break, but on this night, the lead was only five at 24-19.
The Bombers built a 16 point lead in the All A, and again the Bombers built a double figure lead in this rematch. With just under five minutes remaining in the game, McAfee hit a free throw to provide the Bombers a 56-46 lead. The one thing the Bombers wanted to prevent was the huge run the Falcons had made in the All A that cut the 16 point lead to three before the Bombers were able to prevail. However, in this game, the Bombers had no answer for the Falcons. Over the next three minutes, the Bombers would see their ten point lead go away as the Falcons outscored the Bombers 17-1 during that stretch. With 1:56 remaining, Clay Newton ended the drought that left the Bomber’s trailing 63-59. After the Falcons hit a pair of three throws, Newton would hit a trey from the left wing to cut the deficit to 65-62. That would be as close as the Bombers would get as turnovers and missed shots would force the Bombers to put the Falcons to the free throw line. The host Falcons made enough free throws to seal the comeback win for a 71-64 victory. The Bombers surrendered only 36 points in the first three quarters, but allowed the Falcons to score 35 in the final eight minutes. Coach Matt Botner said, “You’ve got to make plays down the stretch and we’ve got to take care of the ball. It’s about being able to execute.” Botner added, “It is frustrating right now. We’re not able to finish. Even when we won last week (against Hickman) we did not finish, we just held on.”
The Bombers had four players reach double figures in scoring led by Clay Newton and Dre Bledsoe who had 16 while Cooper added 15 and McAfee finished with 10. Cody Newton scored four while Lee Chandler had three points.
For Homecoming, the Bombers faced the Livingston Central Cardinals. Botner tried to shake things up as he changed the starting lineup. The teams exchanged runs to open the game as Cooper hit a pair of field goals and Toler Terrell launched a three to provide the Bombers with the 7-2 early lead. The Cardinals would storm back scoring the next nine to claim the 11-7 advantage. The Bombers would then respond with ten unanswered points of their own for the 17-11 lead after the first quarter.
Cody Newton would get an assist to his brother Clay for the largest lead in the game at that time at 26-18. Once again the Cardinals would respond with eight points in a row to tie the game at 26 all. Clay Newton would get his sixth point coming off the bench to push the lead back to two. The Cardinals tied the game once again at 28 before Cooper would hit one of two free throws to provide the Bombers with a 29-28 lead at the break.
The Cardinals took the lead to open the second half, and that appeared to make the Bombers take notice and the Bombers responded. Cooper would get a field goal and a trey and Lee Chandler got a field goal to provide the Bomber with the 36-31 lead. They would extend the lead and went into the fourth quarter with the 44-34 lead after limiting the Cardinals to six points in the third quarter. Clay Newton’s three would provide the Bombers with their largest lead at 16 at 51-35. Trevor Langston’s two free throws late in the game matched the largest lead at 57-41. The Bombers wanted to extend the lead at the end, however the Cardinals would not let that happen as they caused a couple of turnovers late. The Cardinals converted those turnovers into points. In the end, the Bombers prevailed for their third victory on the year at 59-49. The Bombers had balanced scoring with Cooper leading the way with 14, Terrell added 12 in his first start of the year, and Clay Newton added 11. Both Dre Bledsoe and Trevor Langston added nine each while McAfee and Chandler both had two. “I am glad with got the win. We needed it. It was a big win,” said Cooper following the ten point victory. He added, “We played a steady game and did what we needed to do to win.” Coach Botner said, “”We did a real good job controlling the tempo and controlling the game. He added, “To lose like we did Tuesday, it was huge for us to come back and have a good showing tonight. We really needed this win tonight.” Botner also commented on the starting lineup change, “The starters played well and we got the win and ultimately that is all that matters.”
The 3-10 Bombers now conclude the season with ten games in 15 days. They begin with a home game on Thursday night against Cairo before taking to the road for a district matchup with Mayfield on Friday. They travel then to Calloway County on Saturday, then go to Fulton City on Monday, and conclude district play on Tuesday at Graves County. The game with Mayfield will be critical for the Bombers as that will more than likely be the team for them to beat in the district tournament to advance to regionals. Mayfield won easily back on January 14th winning by 23. Cooper said on wrapping up the year, “Our spirits are better and hopefully we can now get some more wins.” He added about the rematch with Mayfield, “We owe them one.”