Something about the Mexico Bulldogs that brings out the best in the Boonville Pirates basketball team.
After losing by 14 earlier in the season at Mexico, the Pirates couldn’t have asked for a better place to play Friday night while hosting the Bulldogs on Courtwarming at the Windsor gymnasium.
While the Pirates swept Mexico last year, winning home and away, the Bulldogs returned the favor in climatic fashion by holding off Boonville in the final seconds for a 61-59 victory.
Boonville Pirates basketball coach Jesse Oswald said this was a game that could have swung either way.
“We had a lot of fight in us tonight, but Mexico stepped up big late and hit some shots that prevented us from ever taking a lead late in the game,” Oswald said. “I think at one point in the third quarter they had the lead up to 10 or 11, and we stormed back and eventually tied it up, but we could never get over that hump. I thought our team showed a lot of grit and resiliency by battling back against a good experienced Mexico team. Mexico is hard to guard, as there is rarely a player out there who can’t find a way to score, but I thought our defense was solid tonight and we made some big plays.
“Our press is starting to bother the opponents and we forced some turnovers tonight and some quick shots. However, Mexico hit shots when needed and it was just enough to beat us. Late in the game we made some big plays and hit some big shots. We are starting to trust one another out there and make the extra pass when needed to get a better shot. The loss hurts, they always do. But we can continue to hold our head high as we battle through these tough matchups and continue to improve. We left it all on the court again and even though we lost, I think we are becoming a dangerous team. There a few things we need to improve upon, especially in our half-court defense, but effort and intensity has really picked up.”
Of course it didn’t look good early on against Mexico. Aside from starting the game 0 for 6 from the field, Boonville also trailed the Bulldogs by a score of 13-7 after the first eight minutes of the ballgame.
Mexico also stayed one step ahead in the second quarter by outscoring the Pirates 15-14 to lead at the half 28-21.
Although the Pirates showed flashes of a comeback by cutting the lead to four after a basket by junior Semaj Clark at 21-17 with 2:45 left, they were unable to get any closer as Mexico extended the lead back to seven.
The good news is that Boonville still had two quarters to make up for the deficit. Of course the Bulldogs didn’t make it any easier in the third while leading by as much as 10 at 35-25 with 6:13 left. However over the next two and a half minutes, Boonville reeled off 10 straight with eight coming from senior Avery Reardon to tie the game at 35-all with 2:41 remaining.
The Pirates never got any closer for the rest of the period but still managed to keep it at two points after three at 44-42.
Boonville also outscored Mexico 21-16 in the third by taking the ball more to the hole.
In a wild and crazy fourth quarter, the Pirates again tied the game at 52-all after a three by sophomore Josh Chrisman with 3:57 left. Unfortunately for Boonville, they never got any closer in the ballgame as Mexico pushed the lead back up to seven at 59-52 after a series of turnovers by the Pirates.
Needless to say, Boonville showed no quit in the final two minutes while cutting the lead again to two at 61-59 after a three-pointer from the top of the key by Clark with 3.6 seconds left. Clark was also fouled on the play and went to the line with a chance for a four-point play. However with only three ticks left, Oswald had no choice but to have Clark miss the shot in hopes that Boonville got the rebound and scored. However, after missing the rim, Mexico got the ball back and ran out of the rest of the time on the clock for the win.
Tyler Spargo led four players in double figures for Mexico with 17. Jai Lawson and Matthew Huffman each had 11 while Vern Williams chipped in 10.
For Boonville, Reardon finished the game with 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Clark had 13 points, two rebounds and one assist while Tramell Coleman added seven points, two rebounds and one assist, Malik Brazil six points, one rebound and one assist, Josh Chrisman five points, three assists and one rebound, Charlie Bronakowski five points and four rebounds, Clayton Gochenour two points and two rebounds and Kyle Chrisman with two points.
Boonville also finished the game hitting 23 of 45 shots from the field for 51 percent and 9 of 17 from the foul line for 53 percent.
Mexico also won the JV game against Boonville 60-49.
The Pirates, dropping to 3-9 overall and 3-4 in the NCMC, led Mexico 30-29 at the half but was outscored 31-19 in the second half.
Boonville JV coach Brock Hill said it goes without saying that losing is never fun.
“Losses can be deflating but I try not to focus on that,” Hill said. “I want to emphasize our effort. I thought we gave everything we had effort-wise. Everybody did. Even in a loss, there is always something we can build on for the future. We did a lot of good things in this game. I thought we came out in the first quarter and really brought the energy right out of the gate. Defensively, we throw several different looks at them and adjusted well for the most part. Our rotations were a little slow and Mexico was able to take advantage of that. We pushed the ball well in transition but rarely ran our offensive sets with any patience in the half court. But the effort was there. Another thing that impressed me about this group of young guys was that they took complete responsibility for the loss after the game. They didn’t point figures at anyone or blame the refs. When I asked for their input they started talking about things they wanted to work on in practice and how they can see that they are getting better. That’s what I love about this team. No matter what the scoreboard says at the end of the game they are there for each other and ready to work harder to get better.”
Keyon Mahaney had 13 points and Zach Watkins 10 to lead Mexico.
For Boonville, Lane West tossed in 17, Nick Ferrari and Gabe Lorenz 10 each, Tyler Schuster four and Gage Sprigg, Nathan Platt and Ethan Huntsperger each with two.