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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Bear's streak stopped short

Monday, March 14, 2011

Neither Bay nor Black Rock can call itself Class 1A Region 2 champions.

That honor belongs to the Mammoth Spring Bears, who knocked both the Yellowjackets and the Zebras out of the regional tourney.

However, either Bay or Black Rock will be able to end the season by calling itself Class 1A state champion.

Because the two 1A-3 East Conference rivals will play each other March 10 for the Class 1A state championship at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

Bay slid past Mammoth Spring 38-29 in the Class 1A state semi-finals, March 5, at Harold Ray Jeffery Gymnasium in Calico Rock, while later in the evening, Black Rock knocked off Kirby 63-50.

The Yellowjackets' (34-9) victory over Mammoth Spring (35-7) snapped the Bears' impressive 19-game winning streak, which started after an early January loss to Class 3A West Fork in the North Arkansas College finals.

The Bears and Yellowjackets' paths crossed just one week and one day earlier in the regional semis, a game in which Mammoth Spring won 59-52 in overtime.

But in the rematch of two of the state's top Class 1A teams, no extra period would be needed.

Defense was the only thing required in this one and both teams had it in spades.

Less than 24 hours earlier Matt Turnbough and Caleb Brown burned Kingston in the quarterfinal round. Each player racking up 24 points apiece -- Turnbough's coming on eight 3-pointers, but Bay was bound and determined to not let the same fate befall it.

And with a Yellowjacket draped all over Turnbough, and with all other eyes peeled on Brown, Bay's strategy worked.

Turnbough finished with three points, while Brown also ended the contest with three.

This helped to explain why Mammoth Spring, which had posted 42 points in the first half against Kingston, had just 12 in the first two frames vs. Bay.

Gunner Freeman drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the first period, helping the Yellowjackets jump in front 8-0.

But Houston Cooper (11 points) stepped up and nailed two big 3-balls in the game's first eight minutes to help Mammoth Spring keep pace, down 13-6 after one.

Bay used an 8-2 run early in the second, fueled by treys from Tristan Shelley and Tyson Oliver, to build a 21-8 advantage.

Mason Brown (four points) and Cooper hit a pair of hoops late in the second, but the Yellowjackets, the third seed out of Region 2, took a 23-12 cushion at the half.

Mammoth Spring made a few adjustments at intermission and they paid off big-time in the third.

Garrett Wooldridge (three points) hit a hoop to open things, followed by back-to-back buckets by Chris Young (six points) which pulled the Bears within five, down 25-20.

Looking a bit uptight in the third, the Yellowjackets managed just two points in the stanza.

When Cooper popped a triple at the 6:28 point of the third, Mammoth Spring edged within three points of Bay.

But that was as close as the Bears would get.

After a Bay turnover with a shade under two minutes left to play, the Bears had a chance to pull even, but a 3-pointer by Cooper went in and then spun out, leaving the Yellowjackets on top by three.

Mammoth Spring had possession of the basketball six times down by only three points, but the Bears just could not get the ball to go in the bucket.

The back-breaker came from Oliver, who with 1:29 left, converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to push Bay ahead 30-24.

Oliver was in the game in place of Freeman, who had fouled out on an offensive foul with just over three minutes left to play.

Cody Sharp added a layup and the Yellowjackets hit four straight charity tosses to take a 36-24 lead with 37 seconds left.

Turnbough finally found enough breathing room for a trey and Caleb Brown stuck back a missed shot, but Bay still punched its ticket to Summit Arena and a spot in the championship game for the second straight year with a 38-29 win over Mammoth Spring.

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