BIG SANDY — The Miller Grove Hornets saved their sting for the final quarter.
Miller Grove and Karnack rocked back-and-forth for three quarters. Neither squad able to assert dominance of the other. But in the fourth quarter the Miller Grove Hornets outscored the Karnack Indians 22-12 as they took a 42-37 win in Class 1A, Division II Area playoff basketball action at Big Sandy Friday night.
The Hornets advance to meet Laneville in the regional quarterfinals at a time and place to be determined.
Miller Grove was powered late by Aaron Baylus who scored 13 of his game-high 16 points in the final two quarters. Baylus was also a force on the boards with nine while Cayle Watson added eight rebounds. Andrew Steele also had 13 points with seven rebounds.
"We have to get big games from Steele and Baylus," said Miller Grove head coach Greg Billingsley. "We did and the other players, Watson, Seth Roberts and Tim Heijligers also played well."
The win allows the Hornets to advance to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 1989. They meet the winner of the Laneville/Roxton game.
"We did a nice job finishing the game," Billingsley said, talking about the 22-12 surge the team closed the game with against Karnack. "We played a tough schedule, we have been in many games just like this one. That experience helped us and we knew how to play well late with the game on the line."
The coach was also encouraged by his team's free throw shooting late in the game. After shooting less than 50 percent in the first half (4-of-9), the Hornets made 14-of-25 to final with 18-of-34 for the game, 52 percent.
Karnack was 4-of-14 from the charity stripe.
The Hornets also shot the ball better than the Indians as they hit 40 percent of their second half shots, 6-of-16 while the Tribe just made 30 percent (6-of-20) many of those shots came late when they were in a comeback mode.
Karnack started the second half with a 20-14 lead and maintained the lead throughout the third period. Key points from Stony Irving and Ontarius Dudley allowed the Indians to stay ahead. The Karnack squad appeared to have control of the game, going up 25-20 with the fourth quarter beginning.
But the Hornets were made of pretty tough stuff as they scored the first nine points of the final period to jump ahead, 29-25. The scoring bonanza started when Roberts swished the net with a 3-pointer from the corner. That shot was followed by six consecutive free throws by Baylus. In between the Indians missed free throws and played into the hands of the Miller Grove team with two turnovers and a 10 second call.
The Hornets were feeling it and Steele snapped the net with a 3-pointer that padded the lead to 32-25 forcing Karnack to call a time out at the 4:06 mark in the fourth.
The Indians got back within a bucket, 32-30 following a long range bomb from Rodney Davidson with less than 3:20 left.
The Hornets got finishing points from Roberts on a back door cut and Steele free throws. Karnack could not rally and Miller Grove took the playoff win by the final of 42-37.
In the early going, both teams tried to figure out what worked, but did not score much. The Indians had a 7-3 lead as the first period concluded.
Each team popped the nets for 11 points in the second period. Baylus and Steele had five rebounds each in the first period. Dudley pulled down five of his team's 12 first half rebounds.
Irving was the top scorer early hitting for 10 points, including two 3-pointers as Karnack build an 18-14 lead at intermission.
The third quarter was almost even with Karnack scoring seven to edge the six points tossed in by the Hornets.
Karnack faltered late while the Hornets finished the game with 22 of their 42 points.
Miller Grove 3-11-6-22--42
Miller Grove - Andrew Steele 13, Seth Roberts 6, Joey Hegseth 1, Jordan Lennon 4, Cayle Watson 2, Aaron Baylus 16.
3-point goals - Steele, Roberts.
Karnack - Stony Irving 14, Tyron Jones 2, Ontarious Dudley 12, Caradius Haynes 1, Julius Lewis 2, Rodney Davidson 6.
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