Bobcats trounced by Mars Hill
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
The Phil Campbell girls and boys both advanced to the Northwest Regionals, but neither Bobcat team could pull out a win against Mars Hill.
The Phil Campbell Lady Bobcats had a game plan to try and defeat Mars Hill – stop their guards. Mars Hill, in turn, looked inside to capture the 58-40 win at the Northwest Regionals.
While the Bobcats did a good job containing the Mars Hill shooters, center Abby Gooch was able to net 15 points working the inside to help the Panthers capture the win.
“We didn’t expect that,” said Phil Campbell coach Craig Thomas. “We put a lot of pressure on their guards, expecting them to be the ones to try to beat us. They did a good job of handling the pressure and getting the ball inside.”
Mars Hill outscored Phil Campbell in each of the four quarters. Mars Hill led Phil Campbell 12-6 at the end of the first quarter and 29-18 by halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Mars Hill held a 47-31 lead and coasted to the win.
Chloe Roberson led Phil Campbell with 12 points. She was followed by Abby Davis with 11 points. Dakota Elliot scored six points, Darby Elliot had four points, Elizabeth Benford added three points, and Leah Gunderman and Carley Nix had two points each.
Phil Campbell ended the season with an 18-11 record.
After falling behind the Mars Hill Panthers by double digits, the Phil Campbell Bobcats found a spark that ignited a comeback that fell just a few inches short on a last-second shot at the Northwest Regionals.
Mars Hill led the Phil Campbell Bobcats by 11 points with 6:07 to go in the third quarter and seemingly had everything going their way. A renewed intensity on defense and some good shooting, however, allowed the Bobcats to work their way back into the game.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” said Phil Campbell Coach Brett Thomas. “We are a really young team, and we have had to overcome a lot this year. After the start of our season, I wouldn’t have given us much hope to be here, but we got healthy, and we got better every game. I believe we will be back here next year with different results.”
Mars Hill jumped out to a 17-9 first quarter lead, and things looked bleak for the Bobcats early on. Thomas attributed it to the team’s first trip to the regionals in a decade.
“I think we were a little tight early,” said Thomas. “This was our guys’ first time to play in this big of a venue in front of this big of a crowd. I think it had an effect, but we settled down and played hard.”
Mars Hill led Phil Campbell 30-23 at the half.
After the Panthers had built up their 11-point lead, the Bobcats began to chip away. Phil Campbell cut Mars Hill’s lead to 36-33 on a big three-pointer by Noah Williams. Grant Masterson cut the Panther lead to one point on the next drive on a layup. Mars Hill clung to a 40-39 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Neither team scored for the first two and half minutes of the fourth quarter before trading baskets. The Bobcats finally tied the game at 43-43 with 4:21 to go in the game, but Mars Hill pushed the lead back to six points. Peyton Thomas cut the lead to three points with 00:42 to go in the game.
Phil Campbell got the ball back trailing 55-52 with 00:12 seconds and set up a play to free Thomas up for a three-pointer to send the game to overtime, but the shot hit the back of the rim and ricocheted into a Mars Hill players’ arms as time expired.
Thomas led Phil Campbell with 21 points. He was followed by Williams with 14 points. Copeland had seven points, Masterson had six points, Gage Roberson had thee points and Joe Hardy finished with one point.