Mexico boys fall just short against Hickman

Dave Faries

In the aftermath of Mexico’s 61-55 loss to Hickman on Saturday night, Michael White could only shake his head.

“We were keeping up with them,” the Bulldogs versatile forward said.

Anyone on the Kewpies’ side of the court might have made the same statement. It was a tight back and forth affair deep into the fourth quarter. Mexico was up by one at the half, Hickman held on by one at the end of three.

And the teams continued to trade blows as the final period got underway. Hickman’s Benjamin Wilson rolled one in from the baseline. Bulldogs big man Drew Blevins responded, driving one on two in the paint.

And so it went.

“We fought hard the whole game,” Isaiah Reams observed. “And we knew they would be coming for us.”

With less than 2:00 to play in the game and the Kewpies now clinging to a 50-47 advantage, Mexico was forced to foul. Hickman converted 7 of 11 from the line over the final 1:30 – not great, but enough to edge away, aided by a Bulldogs turnover and an offensive rebound after Kewpies forward Seth Larson misfired on a free throw.

“They’re physicality got to us at times,” said Mexico head coach Darren Pappas. “We have to be able to handle pressure.”

The game was rescheduled to Saturday after being postponed by weather on its original date. The two sides faced off on what might be called a neutral site. Mexico Middle School substituted for The Sports Complex, which had been used for a girls district wrestling tournament that day.

Things were even almost from the opening tip. The Bulldogs extended a 7 point lead late in the first, draining a three from the top of the arc after briefly looking to pass. But Larson and Adam Trachsel replied for Hickman to make it a 15-12 game after one.

Trachsel’s points for the Kewpies were the last not scored by Larson or Nicholas Rooney until the 5:48 mark in the third.

Meanwhile Reams and Blevins were keeping pace for the Bulldogs. Blevins and Larson would both put up 25 on the night. Reams racked up 17 to Rooney’s 15.

“We can’t lean on two guys,” Pappas said – again a thought that was probably echoed on the visitors’ bench.

In such a game, building a 4 point gap could prove fatal to the other side. But this proved elusive as the second half wore on.

Reams made it 27-26 in Mexico’s favor two minutes into the third. Larson flipped the score moments later.

When Hickman managed a 30-28 lead, Blevins reversed things by sinking a three.

With three minutes to go in the third Rooney gave the Kewpies a 5 point advantage. Acting quickly to stop the bleeding, Reams lobbed in a floater and Blevins followed with a jumper from the bottom of the key.

It was 37-36 as the buzzer neared to close out the third, the Kewpies on top. Mexico would not be able to gain those crucial points to tip the balance.

Apart from Blevins and Reams, only Daeye Miller with 8 and Jordan Mitchell with 4 put points on the board.

But they showed up on defense. Raef Yager had two important steals that led to points. White hustled to save a loose ball and started a break.


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