BOONEVILLE | Wheeler’s Eagles set Bonner Arnold Coliseum’s goals ablaze with three-point shots in Friday’s second round of the Prentiss County Tournament. Baldwyn, however, was able to capitalize on turnovers and defense to limit Wheeler’s other scoring opportunities to claim a 43-37 win and a spot in the championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Booneville
Wheeler took an early 6-2 lead on three-point shots by Cayden Howell, who had four three-pointers in the first half, but Baldwyn took the lead on an 8-0 run to go up 10-6. Wheeler responded, but Baldwyn was able to hold a 12-10 edge going into the second quarter.
Dy’Lan Johnson made Wheeler pay for a turnover to start the second quarter, driving half the court untouched for an easy layup and a 14-10 lead. Wheeler’s Howell drilled another three-pointer off a turnover to draw the Eagles within one. Preston Ward then gave the Bearcats a little breathing room with a layup and Joel Barber, who led all scorers on the evening with 17 points, followed up with a jump shot to put Baldwyn ahead by five. Howell dropped the last of his first-half three-point shots, though, to cut the deficit back to two. The Eagles tied things up with two minutes to go, but Baldwyn regained the lead on a free-throw from Jamaury Marshall that launched a 10-0 run that would last into the third quarter and gave the Bearcats a 23-18 lead heading into the half, which turned out to be a lead the Bearcats would never relinquish.
Ward opened scoring for Baldwyn to start the second half with two baskets and a free-throw to give the Bearcats a 28-18 lead and extend the run Baldwyn began in the second quarter. Wheeler broke its five-minute scoring drought (that began in the second quarter) with another three-point shot with five minutes to go in the third. Baldwyn’s Barber then sank two free-throws and later added another basket and free-throw to give the Bearcats a 33-22 edge. He furthered the Bearcats lead with two additional free-throws with just over two minutes to go in the third. The 35-22 lead was short-lived, though, as Wheeler drained yet another three-point shot to cull the lead to 10, 35-25, heading into the fourth quarter.
Ward gave Baldwyn another two points on an assist from Barber to give the Bearcats a 37-25 lead to start the fourth. Wheeler chipped away at the lead, though, cutting it to eight, 37-29, with just under six minutes to go. Andy Trollinger gave Baldwyn more breathing room with free-throws. Barber then added a basket and Trollinger tossed in one more free-throw to give the Bearcats a 42-29 lead with a little more than three minutes to go. Wheeler whittled that down to six by the time the horn sounded, but Baldwyn held on to advance to the title game with a 43-37 win.
In the low-scoring match for the Bearcats, Ward followed Barber’s point total with 11, while Trollinger added nine points, Johnson had four points and Marshall scored two. Barber and Trollinger both went five-of-seven from the free-throw line.