Season ends in 2OT heartbreaker
The Trojans saw their quest for the school’s first region championship in 14 years come to a heartbreaking end on Tuesday night at South Gibson High School, as Fayette Ware rallied from six down midway through the fourth quarter to beat the Dyersburg boys in double overtime 58-55 in the Region 7AA Semifinals in Medina in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
“Our kids laid it out on the line and, our seniors, they’ve been really, really good,” Dyersburg head coach Blaine Mahaffey said. “It’s not the way we wanted it to end obviously, but they went out fighting and that’s who they are.
“And, that’s all you can ask for.”
After the Wildcats tied the game on the first possession of the fourth quarter, the Trojans got hot from beyond the three-point line as D.J. Swift sank his fourth trifecta of the ball game and was followed on the next trip down the floor by the Trojans with a three-pointer from Zach Morgan. The Wildcats got back on the board with a layup from Jaylon Taylor to cut the lead back to four points but Morgan added a second three-pointer of the frame to put the Trojans up by seven midway through the frame.
With their season slipping away, the Wildcats turned up the pressure on the Trojans who were looking to run the clock down. Steals by Fayette Ware’s Tamarkeus Anderson and Quarterious York led to buckets by the two players on back-to-back Trojan possessions. A third turnover by the Trojans was followed by a three-pointer from D.J. Jackson to tie the game at 42-42 with 1:12 left in regulation.
Dyersburg almost retook the lead moments later, but a Jadrius Jenkins layup came up just short and the Wildcats rebounded and ran the clock down for a last-second shot. Anderson’s attempt failed and the game went into the extra frame tied at 42-42 after Dyersburg’s successful defensive stop.
“They don’t know how to stop playing,” Mahaffey said. “You can blame all that stuff on me and I’m good with that.”
When asked if Mahaffey regretted slowing the tempo down in the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, the Trojan head coach said absolutely not.
Points were few and far between in the initial extra period as Wildcat Jackson initially missed a driving layup but tipped the ball back in to put Fayette Ware on top by two 17 seconds into the overtime frame. Jordan Mosley tied the game moments later with a layup but a foul on the next Wildcat possession sent Jackson to the line where he hit both attempts.
Late in the extra frame, junior guard Kevin Spencer came up big once again for the Trojans, getting a steal near midcourt then finding an open Mosley who hit a layup with 1:06 left in overtime. Again, the Wildcats slowed the pace to a crawl before setting up for a final attempt. This time the ball went to York who drove in but found a lot of resistance from the Dyersburg defense and missed the shot with six seconds left. The Trojans rebounded but were unable to get a good shot off, sending the game to a second overtime frame tied at 46-46.
The Wildcats took the lead early in the second overtime on a lauyup from Ronald Billingsley and Dyersburg’s Spencer quickly drew a foul before hitting one of two free throws to cut the lead in half. After the two teams swapped buckets to maintain the one-point gap, the Wildcats got another big play from Jackson who hit a short jumper and drew a foul in the process then hit the free throw to put the Wildcats up by four.
Another foul resulted in another Jackson free throw, but Dyersburg fought back, getting a Jenkins bucket to cut it to 54-51 with just under a minute left. A foul sent Wildcat Taylor back to the line and he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with Dyersburg getting the rebound. The Trojans looked to tie the game but Mosley missed a three-pointer. The Trojans almost got the rebound on the miss, but the ball just escaped Swift and Mosley after an initial scramble for the rebound.
A pair of Jackson free throws followed and Dyersburg answered just under six seconds later as Spencer drew a foul on a layup, sending him to the line for a chance at a three-point play. But, Spencer missed the free throw with 12 seconds left and a quick foul put York on the line where he missed the first and hit the second, putting his team’s lead back at three points. With time running out, the Trojans got down the court and the ball went to Swift, who was able to fake out one defender but couldn’t connect on the three-pointer as Fayette Ware rebounded at the buzzer to clinch the win.
“Anybody that has ever left disappointed after watching our boys ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Mahaffey said. “Because, I think what they represent and what they mean is bigger than basketball.
“And, what we did right there – just have all our guys lay it out there and do everything it took to keep themselves in a basketball game and give themselves a chance to win – if there’s anybody going to be walking away disappointed, they need to be mad at me and not at our kids because they played their guts out.”
Swift led the way for Dyersburg with 16 points while Spencer added 14 and Morgan tossed in 13.
On the night, the Trojans hit six of 18 free-throw attempts during the season-ending loss while Fayette Ware hit 10 of 16 from the line.
The loss not only ends the Trojans’ season but the careers of Dyersburg seniors Jadrius Jenkins, Zach Morgan, Jordan Mosley, D.J. Swift and Marquail Hill.
“Our seniors deserve a lot and a ton of credit – not only for this season but for this program, high school and community,” Mahaffey said. “I’m just in awe of how they play and what they do and what they’ve been able to achieve.
“These seniors – what they’ve meant to our school and our community – you can’t put it into words. I’m just very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to be around them.”
Mahaffey added the season has been a great ride.
“I hope we’ve enjoyed it,” Mahaffey said. “You know, the journey part, that’s the part I hope no one forgets – that’s the fun part.
“It’s not always the destination, it’s the journey.”
Dyersburg’s season ends with a record of 26-3.