The Boonville Pirates freshman basketball team may want to send the Mexico Bulldogs a Christmas card after pulling off Thursday’s thrilling win over the Bulldogs 42-41.
Although the Pirates led by as much as 13 in the first half, Mexico cut that lead and actually took a 38-36 advantage with 2:29 left.
But after outscoring the Bulldogs 6-3 over the final two minutes to go up 42-41, the Pirates had to hold their breath as Mexico got off two shots in the final seconds only to rim in and out for the loss.
Boonville freshmen coach Paul Moore said this was a rematch of their game against Mexico from last week’s tournament.
“We had a pretty good idea of what we would be facing,” Moore said. “Mexico is a team that can shoot from the outside and play good zone defense, so we knew we had to take care of the ball and limit their possessions.  We came out much stronger than we did last week, and it looks like we are finally starting to play well as a unit. Guys are distributing the ball better, which is getting us higher percentage shots.”
The shots appeared to be falling early for the Pirates, as they took a 10-7 lead after one and a 23-14 advantage into the half. However in the third quarter, Mexico rallied back with a 14-8 advantage and closed out the period on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to three at 31-28.
The fourth quarter was also back and forth, with Mexico cutting the lead to one at 31-30 with 6:31 left only to have Boonville push the lead back up to four at 36-32 with 4:19 remaining.
But even then the game was a toss-up as the Bulldogs rallied back again with six unanswered points to go up by two at 38-36. However after a basket by Saylor Marquez to tie the game at 38-all, Tyree Walters answered with another basket to put Boonville on top 40-38.
The game got really interesting after that as Mexico came back and hit a three to retake the lead at 41-40 with 46 seconds left. But even that was short-lived as Kayle Rice scored on a putback with 33 seconds left to give Boonville back the lead at 42-41. Meanwhile, after taking over at mid-court after a timeout with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs got two good looks at the basket but missed both in the final seconds of the game.
“I also thought that our bigs stepped up tonight when we needed them to,” Moore said.  “Kayle had his best game of this season by finishing with a double-double, and I thought Saylor was able to be active inside and get some easy buckets while drawing some fouls.  Tyree also hit a couple big shots down the stretch that kept us ahead.  Defensively, we did a better job of cleaning up the boards and not allowing Mexico second and third looks very often.  
“We still have some things to work on defensively, but it’s getting better every game. We didn’t seem to have full energy tonight, but we fought through it and played very well to get a late win against a very good conference opponent.  We have a nice, long rest during holiday break before we return to action in January.”
Kayle Rice led the scoring attack in the game for Boonville with 10 points. Saylor Marquez chipped in nine points while Axton Nease and Tyree Walters added six points each, Cody Garner four points, Andrew Wiser three points and Landon Williams and Aidan Lemmons each with two points.
For Mexico, Ty Price had 18 while Raef Yager and Dante Billups added six points each.