It would be hard to imagine a state championship game being any better than Tuesday’s 5A-East conference game played at Mustang Arena.
Tre Hutchieson’s running jumper with 1.1 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 48-48.
Mekyiel Harris scored the game’s final four points in overtime to give Forrest City a 58-56 heart-stopping win over the Beebe Badgers.
The win keeps the Mustangs unbeaten in conference play and in sole possession of first place. With the loss, and coupled with Greene County Tech’s win over Paragould, Beebe fell to third.
Tuesday’s win marked the first Forrest City victory over Beebe since the school moved from the 5A-Southeast conference into the East last season. Beebe swept the Mustangs last year, winning 54-50 and 45-44.
Forrest City and Beebe played a first-round game in the 2008-09 Class 5A state tournament in Alma with the Mustangs winning that matchup 56-53 in overtime.
“They (Beebe) are a championship caliber team,” said Forrest City coach Dwight Lofton. “I wasn’t surprised at all at the way the game played out. They wanted it as badly as we did. The fans saw two championship teams go head-to-head. They weren’t going nowhere. We weren’t going nowhere. All the big players played big for both teams. But right at the end, no one stepped up bigger than Hutchieson.”
Forrest City sophomore Trey Thompson led four players in double figures with 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
Hutchieson finished with four points as well as the biggest shot of the game.
Beebe led 18-14 after one period and 29-28 at the half, getting 14 first half points from Dayton Scott, who finished with 20. Zack May was the only other Beebe player to reach double figures – finishing with 10.
“I knew at the end of the first half, they were playing a much faster game than they wanted to play,” said Lofton. “I was happy with that.”
Forrest City, 10-7 overall, forced a 32-32 tie in the third period when Chatters converted a layup off a feed from Harris with 5:19 to play.
Martin Clanton’s three pushed the Mustang lead to 37-32 with three minutes showing before Beebe battled back by hitting six consecutive free throws to get within one point, 39-38 to start the fourth period.
Beebe regained the lead to start the fourth period and never trailed, surviving two ties at 40-40 with 5:41 to play and 46-46 with 52 seconds left.
Beebe used two free throws to break the 46-all tie to lead 48-46 with 12 seconds left, before Hutchieson’s basket sent the game into overtime.
Harris put the Mustangs in front 50-48 with a short bank shot before Beebe’s Brandon Fuller tied the game at 50-50 with 2:18 remaining in overtime.
Chatters rebounded a Thompson miss with 1:46 to play and got the putback for a 52-50 Forrest City lead. A long three by Beebe put the Badgers in front 53-52 with 1:13 showing before Lee sank two free throws for a 54-53 Mustang advantage with 53 seconds left.
Harris hit one of two free throws for a 55-53 lead, converted a layup with 18 seconds left and dropped in his final free throw with 13 seconds to play for a 58-55 lead.
A long three pointer by Beebe that caught nothing but net with 2.5 seconds showing was waved off after the officials ruled Beebe head coach Ryan Marshall had called for a time out just before the shot.
Beebe inbounded following the time out and drew a quick foul from Lee, but made only one of two free throws with .2 seconds left.
The Beebe Lady Badgers remained in third place in the 5A-East with a 69-43 win.
Jamie Jackson led Beebe with 25 points, while Kalela Miller added 18 and Angelina Williams had 11 points. Alexis Miguel added seven points for Beebe, 13-5 overall.
Forrest City junior guard Mary Burks finished with 18 points – hitting five, three-pointers – four in the first half. Nikima Chatters finished with eight points, while Deja Collins, Keyma Thompson and Marina Ford had five points each.
Forrest City falls to 1-4 in the conference and 4-14 overall.
Beebe led 18-13 after one period and 40-26 at the half, bolstered by Johnson’s 17 first-half points.
The Lady Badgers led 58-37 to begin the fourth period and invoked the 30-point “mercy rule” with 3:36 to play in the game when they pushed the lead to 68-38.