MMI loses to Cornerstone

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2005

MONTGOMERY – Michelle Ivey sat with her arms folded, slumped down in her chair, the pain and disappointment etched on her face.

This scenario had become too, too familiar for the Marion Military Institute Tigers coach and her players. The Tigers missed all five 3-point attempts in overtime and were the victims of some questionable officiating in a 61-56 loss to Cornerstone Christian School in the AISA Class 1A state championship Friday at Huntingdon College.

It was the third straight season that the Tigers have lost in the state title game.

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“They hit the outside shots and we didn’t,” Ivey said. “We couldn’t hit anything from outside and everything they threw up went in.”

After the Chargers took a two-point lead to open the extra four minutes, Jovaris Smith’s three-point try from the left corner rimmed out.

The Chargers also benefitted from a questionable call that helped change the game’s momentum. As MMI forward Brian Moore leaped for an offensive rebound, he appeared to be pushed from behind by a Cornerstone player, sending Moore crashing into another Chargers’ forward Ty Youngblood. However, Moore was called for the pushing foul by an official behind the play. Ivey jumped to her feet in surprise while Moore also disputed the call.

Youngblood converted both foul shots to extend the CCS lead to 58-54 with 28.3 seconds remaining.

Kendrick Moore tried to rally the Tigers, but his three-point shot from the right wing went long, falling off the back rim. However, Smith was there for the tip-in to make it a 58-56 game with 15.6 seconds left.

After an MMI timeout, the Tigers tried to steal the inbounds pass. But Youngblood sent the long pass to Beau Biggs just pust mid-court. Biggs then quickly sent a touch pass to Jamal Prentice on the left wing. Prentice drove the ball to the basket to start a three-point play that extended the CCS lead to five with 10.7 seconds left.

Following the game, Ivey refused to comment on the officiating. However, she uttered two words that may signal the end of her coaching career.

“I’m retiring,” Ivey said as she smirked. “We need to be happy we got here. But I’d like the kids to win. I guarantee this stinks.”

MMI held a 48-47 lead late in the fourth quarter until guard Dustin Shears stole the ball in the Chargers’ front court and buried a three-pointer to put CCS ahead by two.

Smith tried to tie the game with an aggressive drive to the basket. Smith appeared to beat Shears to the basket, but the score was wiped off when Smith was whistled for the charge.

On the Chargers’ next possession, Smith dived onto the court to take the ball away from Youngblood. The theft, however, was nullified when Smith was called for traveling.

Cornerstone extended its lead to 54-48, when Smith answered with a three-pointer from the top of the key that bounced high off the back rim before falling through the net.

Smith forced overtime when he fielded David Conlan’s pass from the top of the key and sank another three-pointer, this one from the left wing, to tie the game at 54.

The Chargers had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but Smith swatted the ball from Jonathan McKinney’s hands as the Cornerstone forward was about to attempt a short jumper from the left baseline.