MONTICELLO — The third time was not the charm for the Fordyce boys.
McGehee improved to 17-0 on the season with their third win over Fordyce, this one by a 56-42 final score in Friday’s 8-3A district championship game at Drew Central High School.
The Owls came out of the starting gate on fire.
Six points from Tracey Lawson and five each from Ryan Berry and Trevon Spratt gave McGehee a 20-10 lead after the first quarter.
The Owls struggled early in the second quarter, but the Redbugs (12-7) couldn’t take advantage as McGehee opened up a 32-16 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out pretty good,” McGehee coach Jerome Pace said. “We had good ball movement and didn’t take bad shots.”
Fordyce coach Stan Jones tried to get his team back in the game at halftime.
“The adjustments were try and get back in transition and we also needed to block off on the boards,” Jones said. “We didn’t get nearly enough defensive rebounds and gave up way too many offensive rebounds.”
The Redbugs responded by outscoring the Owls 10-5 in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 37-26 entering the final quarter.
“We always seem to have that little lull sometimes,” Pace said. “… These guys have got to learn how to finish and put people away.”
Fordyce carried the momentum into the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run. Bobby Hentz, who finished with a team-high 13 points, capped the run with a layup to pull the Redbugs within 39-35.
McGehee then showed why they are still undefeated with a 15-3 run to put the game out of reach.
“I told them don’t play like you’re behind,” Pace said. “We had missed some layups and free throws and you know that can kind of weigh on you.”
Lawson scored eight of his 18 points during the run, while Evander Bailey scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“They’re been playing hard,” Pace said of the duo. “They’re probably our two leading scorers, but a lot of their shots are set up by these other guys.”
Pace said he’s glad the upcoming 3A Region 4 tournament is at Drew Central and not at one of the 7-3A schools.
“I can be glad not to be on the highway,” Pace joked. “The regional is tough, because you kind of get used to it.
“I mean playing everybody from your conference you get used to them, and now you have to get used to whole new teams.”
Jones will be dealing with same issue and he understands that his team needs to rebound from Friday night’s loss to get the one regional win necessary to qualify for the 3A state tournament.
“I made the point that we would like to win it, but we’ve already qualified for regionals,” Jones said. “The pressure week is next week.
“I hope to say we and McGehee play again next week. All I can say is if you play them enough, eventually you’ll beat them.”