Clutch play keeps Owls undefeated

McGEHEE — The McGehee Owls stayed perfect on the season thanks to a rebound and putback layup by Kendall Hardley with 6 seconds left to hold off a furious rally by Fordyce in a 55-53 conference win Thursday night.

“We talked about finishing the game,” McGehee head coach Jerome Pace said. “We’ve won three ballgames on that same play and those guys know who to block … to get position for a rebound. We had a good look on the initial shot and luckily we were at the right place at the right time on the rebound.”

McGehee (12-0, 5-0 in 8-3A) led by as much as 14 before a furious rally by Fordyce started in the third quarter. The Redbugs outscored the Owls 14-6 in the third quarter to find themselves down by six to start the final back and forth quarter.

Fordyce started the game hot jumping to a quick 4-0 lead, but McGehee responded, led by Evander Bailey who scored six points in the quarter alone to give the Owls a 14-13 edge at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to McGehee, which outscored Fordyce 22-9. That was sparked by a 9-0 run that was capped off by a bucket from Tre’Von Spratt midway through the quarter. After a Fordyce timeout, the Redbugs responded by matching McGehee point for point to find themselves down 36-22 at halftime.

Fordyce (9-5, 3-2) came out in the second half blazing and more aggressive to spark an 8-2 run that forced the Owls to spend a timeout. After the break, Fordyce stayed focus and went on to outscore the Owls 14-6 in the third quarter to trail by only six points at 42-36.

“We had a lull when we came out in the third quarter,” Pace said. “We just didn’t play well. That was a big quarter for them. It gave them the momentum and we had to come out and play with a different frame of mind. We have to play four quarters.”

The fourth quarter went back and forth until the late moments of the game. Fordyce was able to tie up McGehee when Ariyon Sumler hit a bucket with 3:03 left. After a missed shot from McGehee, Fordyce found itself ahead for the first time since the first quarter when Trey Williams made a jumper with 2:30 left.

The Owls made four straight free throws to reclaim the lead before Jakeymas Gates tied the game up one last time at 51-51. McGehee opted to not call a timeout and instead dribbled down the clock before the late game heroics from Hardley. Fordyce was out of timeouts and couldn’t get a shot off as the final buzzer sounded.