Top two seeds no problem in Mammoth Spring's march to 2A-East finals win
Whether it was with a "win one for the coach" mentality, or whether they are just a team that is peaking as crunch time approaches, the Mammoth Spring Bears certainly hit their stride at the proper time by knocking off the top two seeds en route to the 2A-East District Tournament championship at the Screamin' Eagles Nest on the campus of Hillcrest High School.
After the Bears had pushed past Oak Ridge Central in the tourney's first round Feb. 14, Mammoth Spring Head Coach Bob Maguffee turned in his resignation from teaching duties the following day, opting to leave his job with the school district for one at a local business.
Maguffee did remain on the bench with his Bears for the final two rounds of the 2A-East Tournament, and according to Mammoth Spring Superintendent Ron Taylor, will do so for the regional tourney, as well as any games the Bears might play beyond the regional round, helping assistant coach Denny Young guide the team. Taylor was hopeful a replacement for Maguffee would be named sometime in March.
The fourth-seeded Bears plowed past their old friends from Biggers-Reyno, the tournament's number two seed, 70-64 Feb. 17 in the championship game.
Mammoth Spring held a 34-33 lead at the half, and remained in front by one, 49-48 after three, before ending the evening with a six-point win.
Cameron Kent paced the Bears with 22 points, while Aaron Shipp followed with 20. Gage Busch added 14 for Mammoth Spring. Garrett Busch and Ethan Gaines tallied two points apiece.
In semi-final action, the Bears powered past the host team and number one seed, the Hillcrest Screamin' Eagles, by a count of 69-51 Feb. 16.
Zach Sims led the way with 18 points, while Shipp logged 16, Kent 14, and Busch 13.
The Bears shrugged off a sloppy first half of play and routed the Oak Ridge Central Roadrunners 59-43 in the first round of the tournament Feb. 14.
The Bears, despite ragged play from both squads in the first half of play, never trailed in the contest, and were never really threatened by the fifth-seeded Roadrunners.
It might be been a different story had ORC been able to hit its free throws in the first two periods.
The Roadrunners just couldn't get a shot to fall in the hoop, posting just three field goals in the first 16 minutes of action.
Mammoth Spring was a bit foul-happy during this stretch, and sent the Roadrunners to the charity stripe 19 times in the half.
However, ORC failed to take advantage of the Bears' charity, with the Roadrunners hitting just nine-of-19 from the line in the first half.
The Bears jumped on top 8-0 right off the bat, getting five points from Kent (17 points) during that spurt.
A 3-ball from Shipp at the 2:34 mark of the first pushed Mammoth Spring on top 11-3. Shipp led all scorers on the night with a game-high 19 points.
ORC did close the frame with three straight points, including its only field goal of the first, but the Bears held serve 11-6 after one.
The pace of the contest slowed in the second, with free throws taking center stage.
Sims had a productive second period for the Bears by scoring seven of his eight points on the night in the frame.
The Roadrunners did knock down two shots from the floor in the period, and pulled as close as 25-14 to the Bears.
Mammoth Spring used a pair of old-fashioned 3-point plays from Sims and Shipp to take a 31-16 lead to the half.
The Bears came out of the halftime locker room like they meant business, determined to clean up their uneven play of the first half.
Getting downcourt behind the ORC defense on a flurry of fast breaks, the Bears reeled off a nice 10-zip run to start the third.
When ORC hit its first points of the third at the 5:06 mark, the Roadrunners had been shoved into a 41-16 hole.
The Bears continued to keep the Roadrunners from finding their wings, and Mammoth Spring led 48-27 after three, on its way to a 16-point win.
Segan Underwood finished with four points for Mammoth Spring, while Seth Godwin added three. Busch, Addison Guy, Steven McMullin and Adam Watson posted two points apiece for the Bears.
The Mammoth Spring Lady Bears, holders of the top seed in the district tournament, came up a bit short in their bid for the tourney championship, falling to the second-seeded, homestanding Hillcrest Lady Screamin' Eagles 64-38 Feb. 17.
Hillcrest held serve 29-21 at the half, and then outscored Mammoth Spring 35-22 over the course of the second half.
Ann Whiteside paced Mammoth Spring with 18 points on the afternoon.
The Lady Bears had earned a berth to the finals with a 54-42 victory over the fourth-seeded Oak Ridge Central Lady Roadrunners Feb. 16 in the semis.
Whiteside paved the way with 18 points, while Ashley Walsh finished with 13, and Jodie Walsh 11.