METROPOLIS — A pair of turnovers in the final 13 seconds stymied Carbondale’s remarkable comeback attempt against Graves County in the championship game of the Superman Classic.
The Terriers led just once in the game, 2-1, and trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half. Yet, Carbondale pulled to with two points of the Eagles on two occasions in the final 3:14, the final time with just 13 seconds to play.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot though,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “When you put yourself in that position to start, it takes you the entire game to climb out of that basement you put yourself in, that’s tough. You know what though, our kids didn’t quit. They played hard. They made mistakes, but it wasn’t because of lack of effort.”
Sophomore Clay Greer gave Carbondale life, draining a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining, cutting the Graves County lead to 58-56.
Graves County managed to inbound the ball against the Carbondale press, then was hit with a traveling call.
The Terriers had two attempts to inbound the ball in their offensive zone.
Sophomore Davaris Macklin was the trigger man on the inbounds play. On the first attempt, he passed the ball off a Graves County defender as the count neared five. However, Carbondale was hit with a five-second call.
Yet, the Terriers dodged that bullet.
Graves County bobbled the ball on their inbounds attempt, with Carbondale recovering at halfcourt, giving the Terriers about seven seconds to tie or win the game. However, the Eagles came up with a steal, forcing Carbondale to foul.
Aaron Jones made two clutch free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining to nail down the win for Graves County.
“We just kept making mistakes,” Miller said. “Maybe it’s because of youth. Some of the mistakes came from inexperience. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to gain experience.”
Graves County managed to hang on to the lead despite not scoring a field goal in the fourth quarter.
“I think our energy level was a lot better the second half,” Miller said. “I thought we did a better job on the boards. I thought we did a much better job on (Jordyn) Naranjo the second half than the first half, but that’s a quality team. You have to give them credit. They made us play at their speed. We never controlled the tempo of the game. We never felt comfortable.”
Naranjo led Graves County with 18 points, 11 in the first half. Brenden Young, Graves County’s 6-foot-7 center, had 11 points. He also had two key blocked shots and an important rebound in the final 90 seconds.
Darius Beane led all scorers with 30 points. No other Carbondale player reached double figures.
This was Carbondale’s fourth trip to the championship game in the past five years. The Terriers won the tournament in 2014 and 2015.