From Staff Reports
PRAIRIE GROVE -- Caleb McCallister played nine seconds for the rest of Pottsville's postseason life.
McCallister's buzzer-beating bucket at the end of the third quarter turned the tide in the third-seeded Apaches' 44-36 upset against No. 2 Pea Ridge in the quarterfinals of the 4A North Regional Tournament on Thursday in Tiger Arena.
The shot capped a 9-2 run that gave Pottsville a 29-26 lead and sent the Apaches' bench into wild celebration.
"That was huge," said Pottsville coach Shane Thurman. "Caleb is our back-up center and he only played those nine seconds, but that was a big shot that he hit.
"Sometimes, a basket can feel like 10 points and that was definitely a momentum swing."
Pea Ridge coach Trent Loyd felt it swing, too.
"That buzzer-beating shot was really deflating," Loyd said. "That's just the way the ball has fallen for us these past few weeks."
"The guys played extremely hard but we ran out of gas down the stretch," Loyd said. "It was a back and forth game and they made a couple of plays in the fourth quarter that we didn't. Pottsville slowed the game way down and really made us defend."
Pottsville ran a full-court press, but had success switching half-court zone defenses to keep the Blackhawks' sharp-shooters off balance.
"It was a 1-3-1 and we were trying to change defenses on the fly to give them some different looks," Thurman said. "They just have so many good shooters and we knew if they got comfortable, they could score in a hurry.
"We just wanted to run them off of the 3-point line and not allow them to shoot spot-up shots."
It worked. After an uncharacteristic air ball by Westin Church, Loyd called his junior sharp-shooter over to the bench for a high-5 and a few words of encouragement.
Whatever Loyd said did the trick as Church spotted up from the same place on the baseline for back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Blackhawks their first lead of the game with 42.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Pea Ridge hit just one of its first eight attempts from beyond the arc, but still led 17-15 at halftime thanks to Church finding his stroke.
"We've just kind of been in a slump the past three or four weeks," Loyd said. "And we just couldn't get over that hump."
The Pea Ridge Blackhawks finished 22-7.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Loyd said. "The season didn't end the way we wanted it to, but that doesn't define the year these guys had. They won two tournaments and had a winning streak of 14 games at one point in the season. They finished runner up in conference and district tournament. We will use this season to build on our goal of making the state tournament next year."Sports on 03/02/2016
Print Headline: Blackhawks fall to Apaches