Class 2 State Tournament: Indians fall to South Pemiscot at the buzzer

Puxio’s Scyler Zimmerman attempts to make a move in the post as the Puxio Indians took on the South Pemiscot Bulldogs in the Class 2 State Tournament quarterfinals at Three Rivers College.
DAR/D’Courtland Christian

Surviving and advancing was the game plan for the Puxico Indians heading into the quarterfinal round of the state tournament, but their historic run would take a turn in the game’s final moments.

The Indians stepped onto Gene Bess Court at Three Rivers College on Saturday for their toughest battle of the year to go head-to-head against the South Pemiscot Bulldogs as both attempted to fight their way to the Class 2 final four.

Despite the Indians holding the lead for most of the game, their hopes of moving to the next round crumbled with a buzzer-beater jumper from South Pemiscot’s Ty Campbell as the Bulldogs took a 50-48 victory over Puxico to advance to the Class 2 final four.

Campbell led the Bulldogs with 14 points and stepped up for his squad when it mattered the most.

“I’m really lost for words,” Campbell said. “I’m just proud of my team for backing me and hanging in there with me. I was catching cramps, but I told coach (Jordan McGowan) that I wanted to stay in, and I’m happy that we got the job done. There was some great execution from my teammates, and I just feel great right now.”

Campbell said the team wasn’t ready to go home yet, and with one senior on the team who had to sit out for most of his junior season, they’re making it a mission to go as far as they can in the playoffs.

It’s been five years since both teams faced off, but never has it been to the magnitude of this matchup. The Indians entered the matchup with a 21-5 record for the regular season and a dominant sectional victory over St. Vincent 72-49.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs had a similar outcome with a 68-47 sectional win over Cabool. Though the Bulldogs finished with a 13-9 record in the regular season, they were the favorites in this matchup.

Though the outcome didn’t finish in their favor, the Indians gave South Pemiscot a run for its money for most of the game.

With a large crowd of fans at the Libla Family Sports Complex, both teams stepped onto the court with a lot of energy. The first few minutes of the game were a defensive battle as each team kept each other from making a quick run.

After a few trips down the court, the Indians struck first with a bucket under the basket from Scyler Zimmerman to get the game rolling. The Indians maintained a steady pace to hold a 14-8 lead to close out the first. Though trailing, South Pemiscot stuck with its game plan but made adjustments on the defensive end in the following quarter.

The Indians attempted to keep their run going by kicking off the second period with a dagger 3-pointer from Landan Burchard to extend the lead. Midway through, the Bulldogs saw an opening to rattle the Indians with a full-court press defense, forcing multiple turnovers and turning them into quick buckets.

South Pemiscot took its first lead of the game after a steal and lay-up, heading into halftime with a 23-22 lead. Despite only being down by one, the Indians found themselves in a weird position where the momentum had shifted.

Both teams continued to trade baskets for most of the third, where Puxico shifted the momentum once again, heading into the final period with a 37-36 lead over the Bulldogs.

The finals quarter went down the wire as each team looked to gain the upper hand by connecting with multiple baskets. With neither team willing to give up the edge, the game ultimately came down to who had the ball last.

With the score knotted at 48-48, the Bulldogs made their biggest stop of the year by snagging a half-court steal, which provided a last-second hail-mary from Campbell to win the game.

Jadie Morton contributed 13 points for the Bulldogs, while Torrell Boyd added nine.

South Pemiscot head coach Jordan McGowan was in utter shock in the final moment of the game, and he couldn’t be happier for his team and community for going to the next round.

“I can’t believe it,” McGowan said. “Campbell hit a big shot, and he’s a tough kid. This is the first time in school history that we advanced to the final four, so we’re excited. We just have to keep it simple and do the same things we’ve been doing.”

Puxico fought down to the last second. Zimmerman led the team with 18 points, while Burchard added 15 and Jett Hancock contributed 10.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Indians’ head coach Bryant Fernetti said he was happy with his team’s effort and determination throughout the game and how the community supported them the entire season.

“Ever since I came here, I asked a lot out of this team, and they’ve done a tremendous job, not just as players but as human beings,” Fernetti said. “I couldn’t ask for better seniors just as far as being selfless, being leaders and good teammates. I’m just extremely proud of this team. I want to thank all the people who showed up for us.

“Looking out in the arena and seeing the fans was a great experience. I believe we can be here again next year, and that’s what we will be building for.”

South Pemiscot punches their ticket to the Final Four in Columbia, where the Bulldogs will face Hartville on their quest for a state championship.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: