Photo by Jerry Jackson / Mundy’s Mill guard Franklin Kelsee (left) tries to drive by Union Grove’s Jordan Johnson during the teams’ Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A contest on Tuesday.
JONESBORO — As the games of the 2012-13 basketball season tick away, Mundy’s Mill played host to Union Grove in a pivotal Region 4-AAAAA, Division A battle.
With positioning for region tournament seeding at stake, Union Grove overcame a nine-point halftime deficit and withstood a Mundy’s Mill comeback to claim a 69-61 win.
Sean Williams scored 21 points for the Wolverines and Jay Shorts added 18 points. With the win, Union Grove (13-10, 6-7) stays alive for a potential opening round bye, while Mundy’s Mill sets it sights on a play in game.
Up 64-61 with under a minute to play, Union Grove found itself in the unfamiliar position of holding a lead. Darius Wheeler missed two consecutive 3-point attempts and Deonte Griffin missed a runner, before the Wolverines could finally pull down the defensive board.
Caleb Ham then hit two free throws before the Tigers turned the ball over, all but sealing the Union Grove win.
Down 34-25 at the break and trailing by as many as 13 points early in the third quarter, the Wolverines clawed back in the game by playing more physical and putting pressure on Mundy’s Mill.
“We started playing defense in the second half,” said Union Grove coach Russ Atkins. “First half we were not getting any stops. We were not rebounding good. Second half we played better defense and rebounded better.”
Down 53-49, after three quarters, Union Grove got back-to-back steals and buckets from Williams and Ham. Later a Ham jump shot would put Union Grove up 58-55 and they would not trail again.
The Tigers rode the hot shooting of Franklin Keese in the first half. His four 3-pointers built leads and stopped the Wolverines momentum in the first two quarters, but Mundy’s Mill’ went cold from the field in the second half.
“We don’t persevere as a team,” said Tigers coach Royal Maxwell. “As soon as somebody pushes up against us, we never match their momentum.”
Darrius Sizemore and Keese led the Tigers with 12 points apiece.
Mundy’s Mill (7-16, 3-7) who starts three juniors and two sophomores likely drops out of the running for a No. 3 seed and will fight for a No. 4 or No. 5 seed. The Tigers have Drew on the road and Forest Park at home left.
Union Grove stays alive for a No. 3 seed, which means they can get a bye depending on if they have a head-to-head victory over the No. 3 seed from Division B.
The Wolverines remaining games are at Forest Park and home with Ola.