DU QUOIN — After losing in the morning session, Murphysboro rallied back from a 19-point deficit with seven minutes left to beat Cairo, 57-54, in game nine of the 17th annual Lady Indians Tip-Off Classic on Saturday afternoon at Anders Gymnasium.
“We’ve been preaching to them that we have to find that gear,” said Murphysboro coach Webster McGuire. “We hadn’t really showed it this week, and this morning we were a little bit lackadaisical, but there was something about the fourth quarter that turned it on a little bit to get some confidence. We have to press to be the team we can be, and in the fourth quarter we had six steals after having just four the first three quarters. Then we had some things go our way, and it turned into a great win.”
Murphysboro and Cairo finished the tournament with 2-2 records. In the late game, Du Quoin went in undefeated to play Woodlawn, who was 3-1.
Woodlawn led 9-3 after the first quarter, but Du Quoin cut the lead to 15-14 at the half. The Lady Cardinals extended their lead to 29-18 after the third quarter and won the game 39-27 to successfully defend their title.
“Individually we did exactly what we wanted to do and took them out of what they wanted to do,” said Woodlawn coach Matt Patterson. “We got some transition points to make things more comfortable and shot the ball better today.”
Du Quoin sophomore Lauren Heape, who was held to five points, was named MVP of the tournament.
“I wouldn’t say I came into this tournament expecting to get MVP, but me and my team worked together and had a good first three games even though we didn’t get what we wanted in the fourth,” Heape said.
Murphysboro (2-2) trailed by 20 points with 3:12 left in the third quarter and was down by 19 with 6:59 remaining when the Red Devils closed out the game on a 22-0 run to pull off the victory. During the fourth quarter, Murphysboro out-scored Cairo, 25-4.
“It really got ridiculous,” said Cairo coach Alvin Wiggins. “We started taking some shots for no reason and just gave it back to them. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, so we have to clean all that up.”
During the last 6:59, Cairo missed the front end of two 1-and-1s and two free throws with 1:03 remaining that would have tied the game 56-56.
Down by five with 2:26 remaining, Bridgett Clover swished her fourth 3-pointer of the game to pull the Red Devils to within two.
“The shot just opened up, and I thought it could get us back into the game and then it did,” Clover said. “I didn’t know it was going to go in, so I was really happy when it did. Kylee Kerrens then was a big impact after that”
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Kerrens then stole the ball and went the length of the court for a layup to tie the score 34 seconds later.
“I saw an opening and jumped it,” Kerrens said. “I guess everybody was on a high, and we were just ready to come back. We were tired of losing because we lost our game on Friday, and our first game today. In the fourth quarter, we were all on the same level.”
After Cairo missed a shot, Kerrens muscled the rebound and fed India Harris for a layup to take the lead for the first time since the 3:18 mark of the first quarter when Murphysboro finished a 5-0 run on Clover’s first 3-point and a layup by Harris to take the lead 8-4.
“It’s all about teamwork,” Kerrens said. “We struggle with getting the ball out from under the rim, but I saw No. 24 was open and I gave it to her. I had high hopes she was going to score.”
“My heart was beating and I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not, but I made it,” Harris said. “We pulled it off. We had to work for this one. This one was hard, and it was worth it.”
After Rajanae Moore missed two free throw attempts with 1:03 left that would have tied the score, Murphysboro threw the ball away to give the Co-Pilots another chance.
However, Camryn Mitchell, who led the game with 32 points, including five 3-pointers, missed a 3-pointer. When Island Dooley came away with the ball, Mitchell fouled her with 57 seconds left. Dooley made her first free throw, but missed her second to leave the Red Devils with a precarious three-point lead.
With 44 seconds remaining, Mitchell missed another 3-pointer, but Kerrens lost the ball out of bounds giving Cairo another reprieve. With 19.5 left, Mitchell launched another from beyond the arc and again it bounced off the rim
After getting the ball back when the rebound went off a Murphysboro player, Mitchell attempted another from the perimeter, but as with the previous three bounced off the rim and this time Dooley got the rebound.
With 10 seconds left, Dooley was fouled, but she missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give Cairo its last chance to send the game into overtime. However, Mitchell missed her fifth straight 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining to seal the improbable come-from-behind victory for the Red Devils.
Mitchell passed a milestone with 1:07 into the third quarter on a basket that gave her 2,000 points for her high school career.
The All-Tournament team consisted of Heape, Ayanna Dunklin and Delaynie Dearmond from Du Quoin, Cheyenne Bailey from Woodlawn, Island Dooley and Grace Barlage from Murphysboro, Shianne Dejear from Christopher and Mitchell from Cairo.