Anna-Jonesboro head coach Mike Chamness wasn’t sure how his team went 8-of-21 from the free throw line and was able to knock off Eldorado 65-61 in the opening round of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament Friday night at Duff-Kingston Gym.
The Wildcats’ head coach actually didn’t even want to know what the number was, but one number he was encouraged about was the 11-point deficit his team erased, late in the second half, to earn the upset win as the Eagles held the No. 7 seed in the EHT.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts, especially in the fourth quarter,” Chamness said. “Our guys didn’t quit tonight. I thought we got a real gutsy effort from our freshman Zach Parr and they grew up a little bit tonight.”
Chamness added that Friday night’s affair was the first game all season that his club was able to hang to win.
Eldorado led at the end of the first three quarters and had an 11-point lead to start the third quarter thanks to a 6-0 run by the Eagles.
However, Anna-Jonesboro didn’t quit, as the Wildcats cut the lead to three after back-to-back buckets by Parr to make it 40-37 with 3:51 to play.
Eldorado closed out the third quarter up 44-43, but were outscored in the final eight minutes 22-17, including seven points for Parr, who finished with a team-high 19 points off the bench.
EHS head coach T.J. Zurliene knew it was going to be a tough contest, going up against a member of the SIRR Mississippi division.
“I knew they had us on the size and we were outmatched in some area’s, but in the end, Anna-Jonesboro gave the effort and when it came down to crunch time, we didn’t get what we should have got.”
Eldorado was in the ballgame the entire time, despite letting A-J chip away at their lead as they trailed 63-61 after a Tyler Boulds 3-pointer with 49.2 to play.
On the ensuing possession, A-J’s Noah Fuller was fouled and missed both free throws, but on the Eagles’ next trip down, Dylan Lawrence missed a three-pointer.
The Wildcats’ Damian Reed was fouled and made one-of-two free throws to take a 64-61 lead. Still trailing by three, Eldorado’s next trip down resulted in a turnover with 8.3 to play that put the game away from the host team.
“That’s the way the ball bounces,” Zurliene said of the missed shots and costly turnovers down the stretch.
“That kind of seems to be the M.O. of our team right now. When we get a lead, we go down and seem to turn the ball over or take a bad three-pointer and that’s something we have to fix and we’re trying to do that. Until we fix it, we’re not going to be able to finish off those teams that are equal to us or better than us.”
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