By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With nine seconds on the clock, Justin Skaggs scored his first points of the night, and they were huge: a shot from downtown tied the game at 40 between neighboring teams Mammoth Spring and Thayer.
But the Bobcats kept their composure and Jordan Andrews took the winning shot, connecting on a jumper with a second on the clock to take home the Liberty Tournament championship title.
“We prepared for ‘the first one to 40 wins,’ and it was one of those,” said Thayer head coach Matt Pitts. “They are well-coached and make you work. You’ve got to guard for 30 seconds and rebounding becomes big, because once they’ve taken thirty seconds off the clock, you’d better rebound it.”
Rebounding was key to Thayer’s second quarter comeback after their six-point deficit in the first frame, and they entered the locker room with a 22-17 lead. Zach Flynn led scorers at the half with 8 for Mammoth Spring, and Gaige Pitts had 7 for Thayer.
The Bears’ Clint Lester was clutch in the third with seven points and helped his team to another five-point lead to close the quarter, then fell into foul trouble. The Bobcats wouldn’t reclaim the lead until three minutes remained in the contest, but their last-second shot earned them a new trophy.
“My hat goes off to them, they played a heck of a game,” said Coach Pitts of the Bears. “We just happened to make the last shot.”
The All-Tournament Team included:
Caleb Spray, Mountain Home
Zach Stretch, Mtn. View – Liberty
Drew Clary, Alton
Alex Mero, Mammoth Spring
Gaige Pitts, Thayer
Jordan Andrews, Thayer (MVP)
Mammoth Spring Scoring: Skaggs, 3; Young, 8; Lester, 9; Flynn, 10; Mero, 10
Thayer Scoring: Nicholson, 2; L. Pitts, 3; Doss, 6; G. Pitts, 7; Andrews, 11; Haven, 13