MONTICELLO — Fordyce boys coach Stan Jones said last week that he wanted to face McGehee in the 3A Region 4 tournament.
It took some doing, but the Owls obliged with a hard-fought 46-39 win over Prescott in the regional semifinals Friday night at Drew Central High School.
The win sets up the fourth game between undefeated McGehee (19-0) and Fordyce, and will be a rematch of the 8-3A district championship game that the Owls won 56-42.
Unlike Wednesday’s regional first round win over Fouke, McGehee struggled early on against a scrappy Prescott team.
“Them going from man-to-man to zone,” Owls coach Jerome Pace said about threw his team off. “They tried to control the tempo of the game.
“It made us very uncomfortable.”
Prescott scored 7 of the quarter’s final 10 points to take an 11-9 lead into the second quarter. Despite its poor play, it looked as though McGehee would take a 9-8 lead into the second, but Ricardo Roberts knocked down a three-pointer in the closing seconds.
Roberts, who finished with 11 points, scored seven in the first quarter.
The Owls locked down on defense in the second quarter as they held the Curly Wolves to just four points.
“Other than a few breakdowns I thought we played decent,” Pace said of his defense, which allowed no more than 12 points in a quarter. “… It was an issue of self-discipline, and when we got that corrected we finally got them stopped.
“They played well tonight.”
Thanks to its defensive play, McGehee finally started clicking on offense in the second quarter. The Owls struggled when forced to attack in the halfcourt, but during the second period they got out and ran.
McGehee ended the first half on a 15-2 run — with all its points coming from inside or the free-throw line — to take a 24-15 lead into halftime.
Keonis Henry came alive for the Owls in the third quarter. The junior, who finished with 17 points, scored eight in the period, including a pair of three-pointers.
Kenneth Lewis also hit a three-point shot in the period — the only other three hit by McGehee on the night.
“They were packing it in on us,” Pace said. “They were making us shoot it from the outside, which we can do but I prefer to play inside-out.
“I think being forced to shoot it from outside kind of made them nervous.”
McGehee managed to pick up the win Friday without contributions from a few of its primary scorers.
Starters Ryan Berry (4 points), Tracey Lawson (3) and Trevon Spratt (0) all finished well below their average, but were bailed out by Henry and Evander Bailey (12 points).
Needless to say, Pace will need his starters to play better if McGehee is going to beat Fordyce for a fourth time when they tip off at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
“It’s hard to play a team four times,” Pace said. “They know us and we know them.
“It’s going to come down to some breaks in the game, and whoever gets them will win the game.”