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Bobcats finish on sour note

J.F. Shields recovered from an early deficit to knock off R.C. Hatch 65-58 in the consolation game of the Wilcox Central Holiday Tournament on Saturday.

“It’s big because Hatch is the big time in Class 2A and J.F. Shields is the big name in Class 1A,” said J.F. Shields coach Jerome Sanders. “A win over Hatch may give us the confidence we need.”

For the Bobcats, it was a fitting end to a disappointing tournament. After a lopsided loss to Selma on Friday, R.C. Hatch committed 22 turnovers and missed 16 layups against the Panthers.

Early on, things looked good for the Bobcats (8-7). Trailing 8-6, they reeled off a 9-2 run sparked by three Brandon Battle layups and a jump shot to take a 17-10 lead.

But the Panthers (7-5) heated up in the second quarter to seize momentum and the lead. Nidiarian Andrews knocked down two 3-pointers in an 8-0 run to put J.F. Shields on top 20-19. A Murdoch Wiggins 3-pointer and 3-point play triggered a 13-2 run to extend the lead to 33-25.

“I think (the runs were) a major key because it gave us confidence that we can win,” said Sanders.

A Battle free throw at the 4:29 mark of the fourth quarter trimmed the Bobcats’ deficit to 51-48, but R.C. Hatch couldn’t dent the lead any further. Trailing 61-58 with 20 seconds left, LeAnthony Smith and Battle both missed on 3-point attempts.

The Panthers made their free throws down the stretch to clinch the game.

“They did all the little, small things,” said R.C. Hatch coach Homer Davis. “(We told our team) we can’t wait all night long for them to play basketball.”

Smith led the Bobcats with 20 points. Battle added 16 and Terry Fikes finished with 10.

Wiggins led J.F. Shields with 17 points, Chris Hill chipped in 15 and Dametrius Franklin contributed 12.