By Jeffery Armstrong
The Mundy's Mill Tigers boys basketball team managed to stay undefeated in Region 4-AAAAA play Friday night, but it certainly wasn't easy.
Mundy's Mill overcame 17 missed free throws and poor shooting from the field to rally from a five-point fourth-quarter deficit and defeat the Starr's Mill Panthers 56-48 at Mundy's Mill High. Mundy's Mill improves its record to 15-2, 7-0 in the region while Starr's Mill drops to 4-13, 2-4 in region play.
"A win is a win. It's a testament to the character of this team that they can come back and win a close game like this," said Tigers head coach Tu Willingham. "Coach [Dave] Edinger does a great job with that team. My assistant, coach McCoy, did a phenomenal job with the defensive schemes tonight and we were able to pull it out."
The Panthers looked to pull the upset very early. Vinnie LeDonne came out smoking, scoring Starr's Mill first eight points to build an 8-2 lead en route to a 16-13 first-quarter lead. Both teams were ice-cold in the second quarter, scoring four points apiece and the Tigers trailed 20-17 at the half.
Both teams remembered what the word offense meant in the second half as they scored 16 points each and Starr's Mill held on to a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Panthers led only 38-37 early in the fourth when they looked to put the game away. Ryan Madsen scored two baskets and then off a Mundy's Mill turnover, Mark Harris made a layup and was fouled, making the score 44-38 with less than four minutes left.
But Starr's Mill's Nick Plotner was whistled for a technical foul for taunting and that seemed to swing the momentum towards Mundy's Mill. Kaymar Williams of Mundy's Mill made one free throw to make the score 44-39 and the Tigers roared back. They stepped up on defense and scored five straight points to tie the game at 44 at the 2:20 mark. After a steal, the Tigers took their first lead of the game, 47-44, on a three-point play by guard Earvin Smith with 1:32 left.
"I just wanted to get the ball and go up and finish strong," said Smith of his three-point play. "This team showed why we're first in the region we fight through the whole game."
Mundy's Mill outscored Starr's Mill 9-4 the rest of the way for the final margin.
"We have a bulls-eye on our backs since we're in first place; everybody's trying to knock us off," said Tigers forward Brandon Robinson. "It wasn't our best night shooting, but we came together to get the win."
Mundy's Mill 65, Starr's Mill 48 (girls): The Mundy's Mill Lady Tigers had no trouble with the Lady Panthers of Starr's Mill, racing to a 29-18 halftime lead and cruising to a home victory Friday night. Essence Brown led Mundy's Mill with 23 points and Christian Hunnicutt added 14. Angela Garza scored 19 points for Starr's Mill.