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Bobcats come up short

For Barbour County, the third time was the charm.

After falling to R.C. Hatch in the last two 2A state title games, the Jaguars broke through with a 55-40 win on Thursday.

“(R.C. Hatch) played hard, but we were prepared for this for a long time,” said Barbour County coach Raymond White.

Devondri Richardson led the Jaguars’ effort with 20 points, and Courtavious Dorsey added 13 — including a thunderous dunk that put the Jaguars ahead for good in the first quarter. The win came as a relief for both players after two years of frustration.

“It’s great to be the champs,” said Richardson. “I don’t think we’re going to sleep tonight.”

After garnering an early 8-5 lead, the Bobcats fell apart. They made several careless turnovers and grew cold from the floor. After shooting 7-for-13 from 3-point range in Tuesday’s win over Tanner, the Bobcats finished 5-for-22, and shot 25.9 percent for the game.

“We didn’t make the shots we made the other night,” said R.C. Hatch coach Homer Davis.

At the same time, the opportunistic Jaguars took advantage with a 13-0 run sparked by Richardson’s dunk and capped by a Joshua Richardson steal and layup to take an 18-8 lead with 5:59 left in the second period.

The Jaguars continued to take advantage of Bobcat mistakes, finishing the quarter with 13 points off R.C. Hatch turnovers to take a 25-16 lead into the intermission.

Dorsey and Richardson 3-pointers made it 31-17 early in the third quarter, but the Bobcats got off the mat. A Trenton Tucker 3-pointer and Brandon Battle layup capped a 9-0 run to draw the Bobcats within five points, and another Tucker trey made it 37-33 as the final quarter approached.

Unfortunately, the Bobcats’ errors that created the earlier deficit resurfaced simultaneously with the Jaguars’ hot shooting.

“We got a run in the middle of the third quarter. They were right there where they needed to be,” said Davis. “The game was probably a little too tense for them.”

Dorsey and Richardson knocked down 3-pointers as the Jaguars opened the period with an 8-0 run to make it 45-33 before Tucker earned the Bobcats’ first point on a free throw with 3:41 left.

For R.C. Hatch, there was no 4-peat, but a lot of heartache — particularly amongst the underclassmen. Senior LeAnthony Smith — in his first year at the varsity level — picked up the slack when Trent Tucker went down early, and led the Bobcats with 30 points in a win over Tanner on Tuesday. But the Jaguars held Smith scoreless on Thursday.

“Anytime you lose, it hurts,” said Steven Jones, a junior. “But I hate it for LeAnthony because he was a senior. We wanted to get it for LeAnthony.”

Despite coming up short of tying the state record for consecutive titles, Davis is proud of what his team accomplished this year — even more so than the prior three state title teams.

“I’m so proud of our players,” said Davis. “They’re better than the last three state title teams because of what they’ve had to endure. Nobody expected us to make it this far.”

None were more surprised than White.

“We really weren’t anticipating R.C. Hatch being there,” he said. “When we saw R.C. Hatch there, it was a matter of getting ready for them.”