(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BLOOMFIELD -- Just one year after appearing in the championship game, the Portageville Bulldogs found themselves out of the running as their stint in Bloomfield Christmas Tournament draw to a close Saturday.
For the second straight night the Bulldogs saw a last-second shot come up short, sending them home with a 50-49 loss to Hayti in the tournament's fifth-place semifinals.
"We've been down this road a lot, especially with (Hayti)," Portageville head coach Jason Irby said of the loss. "Hayti seems to have something about them, we just can't play with them right now.
"They've beat us the last three times we've played them and we got killed on the boards again tonight. Until we start rebounding we're not going to beat good teams like Hayti."
Portageville trailed by at least two scores most of the second half, but with a steal and a dunk from Dominique Walker, they closed to within a point with 44 seconds to play.
A Hayti turnover on their next possession allowed the Bulldogs to come down and attempt to take the lead.
Unfortunately for Portageville, an unsuccessful shot and an Indians rebound forced the Bulldogs to foul with 12 seconds remaining.
Hayti missed the first half of their 1-and-1, allowing Portageville to come down the floor with the rebound before calling a timeout.
The break allowed the Bulldogs to set up a play and inbound on the right side of the court near their baseline with 7.2 seconds on the clock.
A.V. Banks handled the inbound pass and drove just a few feet from the paint on the baseline before putting up a tightly contested jumper that hit rim and popped up.
Portageville was able to grab the rebound and threw up one last desperation shot only to see it miss at the buzzer.
"We were going to try to get the ball to Banks and maybe get an offensive rebound chance at the end (if he misses)," Irby said. "We pretty much got what we wanted, our shots just didn't fall. The problem was all the stuff that happened before that ended game.
"We shouldn't have been in that position to begin with if we played the right way."
Part of the Bulldogs' troubles stemmed from missed opportunities at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
After going 10 of 13 from the line in the first three quarters, Portageville only completed 1 of 6 free throws in the final frame, four of those misses coming in the final 2:41 of the game.
"Some of the guys we have at the free throw line are guys we want to be there," Irby said. "I can't fault them. It's frustrating, but the kids aren't trying to miss free throws.
"What's upsetting is the fact that we're not blocking out and not putting bodies on people."
Leading the Bulldogs' effort was Walker with 14 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Dion Foster and Banks had 12 each with Banks hitting all four of Portageville's 3-pointers on the night.
For Hayti, Maurion Newbill had a game-high 27 points, scoring 17 in the second half alone. Frankie Burden was second on the team with 11.
On his team holding on for the win, Hayti head coach Philip Taylor said, "I told the guys (on that last possession) if we hold them for five seconds we get the ball back and win.
"We almost got (the stall), but they got it in. We forced an off balance shot a little bit behind the backboard. It takes a little bit of luck and I guess tonight luck was on our side."
With the win, Hayti moves on to face the Bloomfield Wildcats Monday at 4 p.m. for fifth place in the tournament.
Bloomfield advanced by coming from behind in the final minutes against Twin Rivers to win 47-44 in their fifth-place semifinal matchup.
PORTAGEVILLE (49) -- Dion Foster 12, Dominique Walker 14, Robert Anderson 2, Denzell Simmons 6, A.V. Banks 12, Daniell Allen 3. FG 17, FT 11-19, F 15. (3-pointers: Banks 4. Fouled out: none.)
HAYTI (50) -- Maurion Newbill 27, Cedric Harris 3, Kenard Humes 3, Brandon Burden 3, Demetrius Luster 3, Frankie Burden 11. FG 21, FT 7-13, F 17. (3-pointers: Harris 1. Fouled out: Burden.)
Holcomb and Kennett will meet in the championship of the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament today at 7 p.m.
The two towns, which are less than 15 miles from each other, have won more games in Dunklin County in the last five years than any other school.
Kennett and Holcomb enter the finals with matching 8-3 records. Kennett has won the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament each of the last three seasons.
Top-seeded Kennett and sixth-seeded Holcomb advanced to the championship with their third win in three days Saturday.
Kennett beat the fourth-seeded South Pemiscot Bulldogs 75-46. Holcomb, which upset third-seeded Hayti in the quarterfinals Friday, collected its second upset in 48 hours Saturday when it defeated the No. 2 seeded Bernie Mules 52-39. Bernie entered the game with a perfect 10-0 record.