Tuesday, February 07, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titans lose heartbreaker

Leader sports editor

The Titans fought furiously to erase a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, but bad luck and clutch shooting conspired to break their hearts in a 65-63 loss to top-ranked Maumelle on Friday at JHS.

Harderrious Martin scored for Jacksonville to tie the game with 30 seconds left, and Jacksonville played excellent defense on the final possession. Finding nothing else open, the Hornets settled for a 30-foot shot from the right wing by Pat Green with about seven seconds remaining. Every Titan got a body on a man and boxed out like it’s drawn up. But the shot was from so far out, when it bounced off the back of the rim, it bounced over every defender and into the hands of Maumelle’s Kevin Hamilton on the left wing. He passed to Tremont Robinson at the top of the key, who took two dribbles and let fly a floater from about 16 feet that went in at the buzzer.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner, of course, saw some things he thought his team could’ve done better, but was not critical of the team’s overall performance and effort.

“They fought their butts off out there,” said Joyner. “We’re not as long, we’re not as athletic and we’re not as deep as Maumelle, but we were right there. I still say this team has a chance to do some things.”

Jacksonville led 33-23 with 55 seconds left in the first half, but Maumelle scored four points in the last 15 seconds to close that gap to six by intermission.

The Titans’ lead was 39-31 halfway through the third, but over the next seven minutes, Maumelle outscored Jacksonville 25-7 to take a 56-46 lead with five minutes left in the game.

Jacksonville (14-10, 5-5) then went on its own brief blitz, scoring six points in less than a minute to make it 56-52 with four minutes to go.

After a Maumelle bucket, Tyree Appleby hit a 3-pointer to make it 58-55 with 3:19 remaining. Hamilton then scored for Maumelle, and then added a free throw after a Jacksonville turnover. DaJuan Ridgeway got it back to four with a floater, and then took a charge to get the ball back.

Kavion Waller scored to make it 61-59 with 1:30 to play, and Robinson answered right back for the Hornets. Appleby scored with a minute left, and then took a charge to set up Martin’s game-tying bucket. Neither team took care of the ball very well. Maumelle committed 21 turnovers while Jacksonville had 28.

Both teams grabbed 30 rebounds, but Maumelle got many more on the offensive because of all the long rebounds from deep 3-point attempts.

The Hornets were 6 of 22 from outside, and most were taken from at least NBA range. Green led the Hornets with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, all of which were 8 feet or more behind the 3-point line. His only miss was the last one of the game.

Robinson added 13 for the Hornets (20-3, 9-1). Appleby led all scorers with 22 points while Ridgeway added 14. Christian White and Chris Williams had six and seven points respectively, and both grabbed 10 rebounds.