DU QUOIN – With Monday night’s 54-47 season-opening win over Du Quoin in the 20th Du Quoin Tip-Off Classic at Anders Gym, Massac County coach Joe Hosman moved within a victory of 600 in his 31 seasons in Metropolis.
It’s safe to say few of them have been as wacky as this one.
In a game featuring bouts of ragged play and brief stretches of brilliance, Massac County rallied from a six-point halftime deficit despite losing its best player.
Six-six senior center Isaiah Thompson, who scored seven points in the game’s first 3 ½ minutes before finding foul trouble, got into an altercation with the Indians’ top player, 6-7 sophomore Lamontay Daugherty.
As he drove into the lane with 5:02 left in the first half, Daugherty collided with Thompson, who appeared to put him into a headlock. Daugherty came up and appeared to bump chests with Thompson. The game officials convened briefly and gave each player a technical, ejecting both from the game.
“Both teams lost their best player,” Hosman said. “Neither one threw a punch and I felt like they could have just given both a technical and put them on the bench, but (the officials) did what they felt was best.
“We had numerous guys make big plays down the stretch. We cut our turnovers down quite a bit in the second half, and we did a great job on not letting them have second shots.”
Noah Taylor carried the Patriots’ offense down the stretch. He scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the final 5:20, canning a 3 to snap a 36-36 tie and adding a jumper on Massac County’s next possession. Hayden Lee, who finished with 12 points, added a 3 at the 4:05 mark for a 44-38 advantage.
Du Quoin, which was also playing its season opener, drew within 44-43 on Ashton Smith’s free throw with 3:08 remaining, but the Patriots finished with a 10-4 spurt. Taylor sank 5-of-6 free throws and Lee’s layup in the final 30 seconds made it a three-possession game.
Daugherty came off the bench about five minutes into the game and scored seven quick points, draining an NBA-length 3-pointer to give the Indians a 20-14 advantage early in the second quarter.
But Du Quoin, which got 10 points from senior guard Hank Stewart, simply didn’t make enough shots. It converted just 30 percent from the floor, going 3-of-18 on 3s, and was just 14-of-25 at the foul line.
“We missed some shots we’ll normally hit,” said Indians coach Justin Barrington. “We’ve got to concentrate and knock those free throws down.”
Barrington declined comment on the ejections. Neither Daugherty or Thompson can play Wednesday night in their teams’ next games.
In Monday night’s opener, Cairo sprinted to a 71-64 decision over Sesser-Valier.
Massac County plays Carmi-White County in the first game at 6 p.m. Wednesday, with Cairo and Du Quoin to follow.