For the second time in three years the Hawks are back in the 1A State Championship game after dodging another disappointment early exit to claim a 61-52 victory over the Calhoun City Wildcats on Saturday.
The Hawks (26-12) saw the Wildcats (22-14) battle back to take a 47-43 lead early in the fourth quarter, but a fiery timeout got Myrtle back on track.
“I got in their face and challenged them. I told them ‘We gave up twenty-one points in the first half and twenty in the third quarter. If you continue that it’s going to be a long bus ride back to Myrtle’,” Coach Jonathan Ashley said.
The timeout worked as the Hawks limited Calhoun City to only two field goals and connected on fourteen-of-eighteen for the remainder of the contest.
“It was a great team effort. You could see it in their eyes with about two minutes left they weren’t ready to be through yet,” Ashley said.
David Wilson scored a game-high 15, Robert Montgomery 12, Jimel Judon 10, Beau Cummings 10, and Russ Yates scored 8 for the Hawks.
The game also saw the return of senior guard Justin Jordan who had been sidelined since January 16th when he broke his foot against East Union in the Hawks opening game of the Union County Tournament.
“It was an emotional lift for us. Those other guys have come together and we knew it would be a story that he was returning, but he wants it to be about the guys that made the effort it took to win,” Ashley said.
Jordan was named an honorary starter before the game and came off the bench to score six point and grab three rebounds in just over twelve minutes of play.
“He wanted to find a way to help his teammates any way he could and he made a big basket for us in the second half. He provided a spark and energy for us,” Ashley said.
The win puts Myrtle back in the 1A championship game since their 77-69 loss to East Oktibbeha in 2007 as they will take on the Coldwater Cougars (24-8) for the 1A State title on Thursday.
The Cougars defeated Myrtle 79-63 during the regular season and 86-76 in the region tournament semi-finals, but the Hawks avenged the pair of losses with a 63-55 win to earn the North State title.
“Divine intervention,” Ashley joked when asked about what it would take to defeat the Cougars.
“We’re going to get after them. I think it will be another good one. If we come out and compete for thirty-two minutes maybe we will give ourselves a chance,” Ashley said.
For fans that can not make it down for the Championship game the contest will air on ETV at 8:00 p.m. Thursday night.