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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bears handle regional gauntlet

Friday, March 4, 2011

Time after time in the fourth period, Mammoth Spring's Caleb Brown cradled the ball in his hands, weaving it back and forth as he surveyed the Black Rock defense from the left baseline.

And time after time in the fourth period, that Black Rock defense was like so much putty in Brown's hands, as he sliced, dissected and basically did anything he wanted against the Zebras' frontline defenders, attacking the basket with reckless abandon.

Brown punched in a game-high 30 points as Mammoth Spring punched out Black Rock, 57-43, in the championship game of the Class 1A Region 2 Tournament Feb. 26 at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.

This was after the Bears (33-6) had managed to outlast the Bay Yellowjackets in overtime the night before, in what was without a doubt the state's toughest, and most physical, Class 1A regional brackets.

Black Rock (33-5) led the entire first half against Mammoth Spring, with both squads standing toe-to-toe and taking the other's best punches without flinching.

Joe Paul Carey racked up back-to-back hoops late in the first to give the Zebras a 12-7 advantage after one.

Garrett Wooldridge (eight points) hit the Bears' first hoop of the second, followed by nine straight from Caleb Brown as Mammoth Spring kept pace with Black Rock.

Mason Brown took an inbounds pass and drilled a huge corner trey right before the halftime buzzer that pulled the Bears within one point, 22-21, at intermission.

A baseline bounce by Brown opened the third, giving Mammoth Spring its first lead of the game.

Wooldridge hit a hoop and pair of free throws midway into the third, pushing the Bears on top by five.

Black Rock kept close, but a jumper from Matt Turnbough (six points) closed the third with the Bears in front 34-31.

Then it was Caleb Brown time.

Houston Cooper (seven points) hit a layup and Turnbough drained a triple, but Brown tossed in 11 points in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the fourth, as Mammoth Spring opened up a huge 50-35 lead, turning a tight game into a rout.

The Zebras sent two and three players at Brown, yet he still managed to find a way to drive to the rack for points, as Mammoth Spring made it two wins in a row over Black Rock, both in the last week-and-a-half, after the Zebras had knocked off the Bears in the season's first week.

Chris Young finished with three points for Mammoth Spring.

Wooldridge was named the Regional Tournament MVP.

Cooper, Young and Caleb Brown all earned spots on the All-Regional Tournament team.

It took an extra period of play, but Mammoth Spring advanced to the championship game by knocking off the state's third-ranked Class 1A squad, the Bay Yellowjackets, 69-62 in overtime Feb. 25.

The Bears were up 63-62 late in OT, when Chris Young hit a pair of free throws on a personal foul, followed by Cooper sinking a pair of charity tosses on a technical foul, to make the score 67-62, Mammoth Spring. Caleb Brown sealed the deal with two more from the free throw stripe to give the Bears the big win.

Mammoth Spring led 18-11 after one and 25-21 at the half. Bay was within 42-37 after three periods of play and when Gunner Freeman hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth with the Yellowjackets down by three points, an extra frame was required to determine the outcome of this slugfest.

Wooldridge and Caleb Brown posted 24 points each for Mammoth Spring. Cooper tallied 10, Turnbough had seven and Chris Young four points.

In the opening-round Feb. 23, the Bears hammered Armorel 62-40 behind a massive 30-point outburst from Caleb Brown.

Wooldridge chipped in with 12 points.

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