On a night when so much went wrong early, everything went right for Mildred just when the Eagles needed it most as they stormed back to beat Centerville, 67-61, in the Class 2A Bi-district round of the boys basketball playoffs Monday night at Fairfield.
“We wanted it more,’’ said Draylon Sterling, who scored seven of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including an and-one play with 56 seconds left to help ignite a 9-0 Mildred run that put the game away.
“Once we settled down and went to our game you saw what happened. Just look at the scoreboard.’’
It was a lightning-quick run at the end that ended Centerville’s season.
Mikey Muncy simply took over. He scored six of the nine points in the run as Mildred broke free from a 56-56 tie to take a 65-56 lead when Sterling’s and-one-play was followed by a put-back by Muncy with 50 seconds left that gave Mildred the nine-point cushion.
It was Muncy who started the run with an inside turn-around jumper with 1:46 left to break the 56-56 deadlock. By the time Centerville scored again on a free throw by Hayden Nash with 36 seconds left, the game was all but over. Nash led the Tigers with 14 points.
“At the end of the game we felt the pressure and we embraced it,’’ Muncy said. “We talked about it in the locker room. You have to step up to the pressure.’’
He did. Muncy had just two points at halftime, but scored seven in the third and seven big points in the fourth to finish with 16 points for a Mildred team that came out in the fourth quarter on fire.
The Eagles made two steals and scored four points on two breaks in the first 30 seconds of the fourth to take a 47-43 lead, and just kept the pressure on Centerville, which stayed in the game by dominating the offensive boards.
But Mildred, which was out-rebounded most of the night, even took charge there in the final minute when everything was on the line as Muncy, Sterling and Jase Butler crashed the boards to keep Mildred’s season alive.
The Eagles move on to the Area round and will play either Thursday or Friday.
“Once their point guard fouled out, I felt we could put some pressure on them,’’ said Mildred Coach Daniel Johnston, who gave Centerville all the credit in the world for making big shots and big plays before Mildred took over in the fourth quarter.
“They made some big shots,’’ he said. “I thought we handled adversity well. We did put a lot of pressure on them in the fourth. It was a game of runs and we had more runs than they did.’’
Butler finished with 13 and Russell Holden dropped in nine points. Conner Hill scored six and Jordan Harvell and Will Burnham scored two points each.
It took Mildred a while to get going.
The Eagles made only 5 of 13 free throws and shot just 29 percent from the floor in the first half and went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second quarter and fell behind 30-22 at halftime. But Johnston’s halftime speech must have been a good one.
Centerville (16-10) held back a 5-0 run by Mildred and led 36-27 with 4:00 left in the third, but Mildred hit the throttle and raced off to a 12-2 and took a 39-38 lead on Hill’s 3 with 1:25 left in the third. Sterling hit a 10-footer to keep the lead at 41-40 before Centerville answered with a 3 with 30 seconds left, but Sterling grabbed his own rebound, stepped back and then hit a drive at the buzzer to send both teams to the fourth knotted at 43-43.
That’s when Johnston’s kids applied the pressure and as Muncy put it — “embraced the pressure.’’
They were still squeezing it when they left the Fairfield gym.
Frost boys romp
Frost’s Polar Bears had no trouble in the Class 1A DI Bi-district round against Milford, rolling to a 64-29 win to advance to the Area round of the playoffs.
Frost will play Blum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday in Whitney in the Area round game.
The Polar Bears, who were led by Clayton Colton’s 20 points, jumped out to a 17-8 lead early and built a 34-14 lead by halftime.
Robert Worley scored 14 points and Zach Terry dropped in 11. Ryan Worley added nine and Isiah Belcher and Tyler Stevenson scored five each for Frost.