Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
Mundy's Mill faced the tough task of trying to defeat Creekside for the third time this season within the last 10 days. For 15 seconds Monday in the first round of the Region 4-AAAA tournament, the Tigers appeared to have accomplished that task.
However, Creekside point guard Pierre Shurn had other plans.
The junior got the ball at halfcourt, went past a Mundy's Mill defender and made an uncontested layup at the buzzer for a 66-65 win to dash the Tigers hopes of a state playoff berth.
The scenario was all too familiar for the Mundy's Mill team.
It reminded Tigers coach Tu Willingham of a one-point loss his team suffered during a summer league game.
"I told the team at that time we would be in this situation again," Willingham said.
"We got out there and didn't know what to do."
After constantly fighting to get back in the game, the Tigers took their first lead when Rashad Crawford made a short jumper in the lane to give them a 65-64 lead with 15 seconds remaining.
However, Creekside called a timeout and was able to set up its final play of the game.
"He had a few turnovers early in the game, but he stepped up at the end," Creekside coach Brett Lewis said.
"Every time we play Mundy's Mill it is a dogfight." Friday, Mundy's Mill won 54-52 after coming from behind, and the Tigers won 63-57 a few days earlier.
Creekside had lost nine of its previous 10 games coming into the first-round tournament game at North Clayton High.
With the win, the Seminoles improve to 4-18 on the season and take on Morrow today at 5:30 p.m. with the winner playing Jonesboro for a state playoff berth.
Creekside led 21-10 after the first quarter and held a 29-23 lead at the intermission after the Tigers' pressure defense got them back into the game.
Three times in the fourth quarter, Mundy's Mill cut the lead to three points, but the Seminoles always responded.
Mundy's Mill final comeback attempt almost extended their season, but Shurn dashed those hopes with his buzzer-beater layup.
Aaron Harrison, a first-team all-region player, scored a game-high 28 points to go with 10 rebounds while teammate Jermar Walton finished with 16 points.
"Our kids played huge under these conditions," Lewis said. "Aaron is our lone senior on the team with a bunch of our kids played huge under these conditions. "Aaron is our lone senior on the team with a bunch of kids that have been very consistent."
Mundy's Mill got 14 points each from Chris Bryant and Darrius Sizemore while Nick Allison added 12 points. Despite the loss, Willingham wasn't too disappointed in his team's effort.
After winning only seven games last season, the Tigers finished 13-13 with the loss.
"It hurts that you lose, but our kids played hard and they never gave up," Willingham said. "I think we are back to being competitive as a program. We only graduate one player on a team that has improved every year. I'm looking forward to next season. I'm just so proud of these kids because they are so coachable."
Riverdale 51, Banneker 34: Dejenee Cummings and Jasmine Barnes scored 13 points each to lead the Lady Raiders into the second round of the region tournament. With the win, Riverdale improved to 10-15 on the season and swept the season series with Banneker.
Keimairra Haylock added 12 points for Riverdale, which is seeking to earn its third straight state playoff berth. The Lady Raiders will take on Morrow today at North Clayton High with the winner of that game taking on second seed Mundy's Mill for the right to advance to the state playoffs.
Banneker, which committed 35 turnovers, ended its season with a 0-25 record.
Mount Zion 55, Creekside 31: Freshman Ty Parks scored 11 points and seniors Liz Mobley and Camille Hankerson added 10 points each as the Lady Bulldogs snapped a six-game losing streak. It was the third time this season that Mount Zion had defeated Creekside, which ended the season on an eight-game losing streak. Mount Zion, the No. 9 seed, will take on six-seed Jonesboro tonight at 7 p.m. at North Clayton High.