MORGAN CITY — It may have been a nondistrict game between two local squads, but Saturday’s contest between Morgan City and Patterson had all the makings of a district, or even a playoff game.
With a big crowd in attendance, the two teams put on a bigger show as Morgan City escaped with a 53-51 win following some late-game drama.
The Tigers, who had entered the fourth quarter trailing the Lumberjacks 40-32, came back to defeat the Lumberjacks bolstered by the play of senior Tyrin Watts as well as big-time contributions from other Tigers.
Watts, the Tigers’ main offensive threat all year, again came through as he scored Morgan City’s first 10 points of the final stanza, but Morgan City still trailed 49-40.
However, a three-pointer by Jaylen Jones sandwiched between two buckets by Malcolm Watkins helped Morgan City cut the deficit to two points with less than a minute remaining.
Morgan City (10-7) tied the game soon after when Watts was fouled while attempting a three-pointer.
While the senior’s first shot rolled in and out the basket, he converted the next two shots to tie the game at 51 with 20.8 seconds left.
However, that’s when things got wild.
Moments after Patterson (7-4) inbounded the ball, Patterson freshman Nehemiah Augustus, who led Patterson with 12 points, put up a long shot near half court, a move that Augustus told Taylor he made because it appeared there was just 2.8 seconds left on the clock on the side of the scoreboard facing the Tigers as Watts was shooting his free throw, Taylor said Sunday.
Because the middle digit is not operating properly on that side of the scoreboard, it could have in fact, appeared to be 2.8 seconds remaining instead of 20.8 seconds.
Morgan City’s Brady Fryou snared the rebound off Augustus’ long miss, and on the other end, Watts was fouled.
He sank both free throws with 10 seconds remaining, and following a Patterson timeout, the Lumberjacks’ best three-point shooter, Denzel Johnson, got an excellent look for a trey in front of the Patterson bench, but it wouldn’t fall, and Morgan City secured the victory.
While it was an unfortunate event, Taylor refused to blame the loss on the clock, and he didn’t blame Augustus for his actions.
“He checked the clock before the (free throw) shot while it was still dead,” Taylor said after reviewing the tape. “He just happened to check the wrong side of the scoreboard. It happens. I think when that occurred, I think our guys just kind of went in shock really because nobody was expecting it ... I know I was in shock when he shot it.”
Still, he said it came down to handling the basketball properly and not fouling Morgan City in the fourth quarter.
“It should have never got to that point,” Taylor said. “If we take care of the basketball beforehand. We don’t foul them. We don’t get a thousand fouls called on us for a variety of reasons, we don’t send them to the free throw line so many times, it never gets to that point.”
Morgan City coach Jeremy Whittington said that the clock had been examined before the Christmas break by technicians as well as the school system’s employees, and he was told that it couldn’t be fixed until this week because a motherboard had to be manufactured.
Whittington said the referees had addressed the nonfunctional digit on that side with him prior to the game. Taylor was unsure if it was addressed with him, but he was aware of it.
While the scoreboard was a prominent issue late, Whittington noted that his team had to fight its way back to get to that point.
“To see our kids come back from 10 down I think it was to fight and scratch and never give up … that’s all I wanted to see … You got to keep going after them and going after them,” Whittington said. “To me that was the most impressive thing is that not just one guy (did everything). Numerous guys stepped up (and) stole a ball, got a rebound, blocked a shot. It was huge for us in the last probably six possessions of that game.”
The ending was just another momentum swing in a back-and-forth game.
Watts, who led Morgan City with 29 points and 12 rebounds, had the first big play of the game with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from past half court to give Morgan City a 10-9 lead after 1.
The Tigers appeared to carry some of that momentum into the second quarter as they outscored the ’Jacks 11-3 to begin the period for a 21-13 advantage following a free throw by Watts.
However, Patterson came back and tied the game at 21 on a bucket by Deondre Skinner with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Morgan City took a 24-23 lead into the half.
Patterson came out hot to start the third quarter as the ’Jacks went on a 12-0 run to take as much as a 35-24 lead following a steal and transition bucket by Larry Turner.
The ’Jacks’ defense held Morgan City scoreless for nearly the first 5:30 of the third quarter before Watts’ three-pointer at the 2:31 mark cut the Morgan City deficit to 35-27.
Other top Morgan City scorers included Malcolm Watkins, 11 points and nine rebounds; Buddy Humphrey, six points; Brady Fryou, four; and Jones, 3.
Other top Patterson scorers included Daylon Charlot and Turner with eight points apiece; Skinner with six; and Jones with four.
Morgan City will open District 8-4A play Friday when it travels to Ellender.
Patterson will host Abbeville Tuesday with junior varsity set for a 5 p.m. start and varsity boys to follow the girls' 6 p.m. varsity contest.