RED JACKET – The Mingo Central Miners got another important win Friday night as they dunked Scott 65-61 in a home game that had major implications for sectional seeding.
The Skyhawks sailed out of the gate at a fast pace getting some easy transition baskets and led 18-13 after one quarter.
The visitors continued to shoot well in the second quarter and led 35-26 at the half. Mingo was cold to start the game and was 0-8 from behind the arc and shot only 35 percent from the floor. In the meantime, Scott made 13-26 from the field for 50 percent.
In the third quarter Mingo Central started playing the lock-down defense that head coach Brad Napier is known for. Plus, since they were cold from the outside, they decided to take the ball down in the low post.
That’s where 6-6 senior center Marqus Cunningham and 6-2 junior Alex Lee took over. Cunningham, who had 11 points in the first half to keep the Miners close, took the game over scoring 14 points in the third quarter. He also had a two-handed slam dunk early in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, “Booger” Lee had two slam dunks, one on a breakaway inbounds play that was executed to perfection. The slam brought the partisan crowd to their feet and helped Mingo Central gain the momentum it needed. He added another one in the final quarter.
Then there was junior sharp shooter Julius Hatcher IV. He fired in a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter which helped Mingo Central cut into the Skyhawk lead. MCHS outscored Scott 18-7 in the third quarter 47-38 lead heading into the final quarter.
But Scott would not go away. They kept scrapping and clawing and fought back. The Miners were able to keep a comfortable lead for most of the final quarter and held on down the stretch to pull out the win.
The victory should help Mingo Central’s seed in the upcoming Class AA sectional tourney. It also moves them up in the Cardinal Conference standings.
“This was a great win for a program,” Napier said. “We started out cold and Scott played hard. Both teams did.”
Napier praised the play of Cunningham. “He played like a man tonight,” he said of his big center.
“I though Alex (Lee) played well and Julius (Hatcher) knocked down a couple of big 3’s and played some tough defense,” Napier added. “I told our team they had to match up and be quicker to the ball and get on the shooters.”
“I think we are starting to learn how to win – especially in these close games,” Napier said. “We executed down the stretch.”
Steady senior point guard Austin Banks just missed a triple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Cunningham had a career high for MCHS with 25 points and he also hauled in 11 rebounds. Lee had 11 points and six rebounds, while Hatcher had 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Stevie Hammond contributed five points, senior Zack Barker added a basket and freshman Dalton Hatfield hit a key free throw in the closing seconds.
Matt Dolan had an outstanding game for Scott with 25 points, while Anthony Sigmon added nine and Logan Webb eight.
The Miners celebrated Senior Night as the six 12th graders were introduced prior to the game with their parents. The two senior cheerleaders were also introduced. All of the senior received a gift bag from the Miners Boosters Club.
Mingo Central is now 11-8 on the season and played at Belfry Saturday night. They play at Wayne Tuesday in their final regular season contest.
Scott, coached by Nick Cabell, is now 12-9 on the season. The Skyhawks had beaten Mingo Central 62-61 back in December.
The Skyhawks host Poca Tuesday night and it will be Senior Night for Scott.
Score by quarters:
SHS …. 18 17 7 19 - 61
MC …. 13 13 18 21 - 65
Mingo (11- 8) - Banks 8, Lester 0, Hatcher 11, Cunningham 25, Lee 11, May 0, West 0, Simpkins 0, Barker 2, Hammond 5, D. Hatfield 1, Joplin 0.
Scott (12-9) – May 7, Dolan 25, Webb 8, Brown 7, Sigmon 9, Lafauci 3, Brown 2.