McKinley freshman Tyrese Radford is starting to develop a flair for the dramatic.
A night after completing a three-point play in the final minute of play to lift the Panthers to a victory, Radford excelled once again in a pressure-packed moment.
Radford made two free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining and catapulted No. 4-seed McKinley to a 52-51 victory Sunday over No. 1-seed and three-time defending champion Scotlandville, sending the Panthers into the championship game of the EBR/Bob Pettit/Coca-Cola Parish Tournament at Southern’s F.G. Clark Activity Center.
McKinley (10-5) meets No. 2 Madison Prep Academy (16-1), a 72-38 runaway winner over No. 6 Tara, at 7:30 p.m.
“It felt amazing,” Radford said. “Coach (Marvin Dotson) has us shooting free throws for hours. It was some big ones. I was nervous but if it wasn’t for coach I wouldn’t be here.”
McKINLEY 52, SCOTLANDVILLE 51: McKinley had previously won the EBR tournament three times, the last time in 2007.
The Panthers carried a 44-38 lead into the fourth quarter before the Hornets (13-4) went on an 8-2 run and tied the game at 46-all with 1:33 left on four straight free throws from Ja’Vonte Smart.
McKinley recaptured a 50-46 lead with 48.5 remaining when leading scorer Keion Brown slammed home two of his 17 points and Kyle Woods added a pair of three throws.
Garrick Green scored two of his game-high 18 for Scotlandville and Radford missed the front end of a 1-and-1, keeping the door open for the Hornets who regained a 51-50 edge on Jordan Adebutu’s driving basket with 11.6 seconds showing.
Following a timeout, Woods quickly looked up and found Radford, who was fouled near the rim. His first attempt hit the back of the rim, bounced twice and dropped through with the second swishing the net.
“I knew I had to get myself together,” said Radford, who scored 10 points. “The earlier free throw, I wasn’t in my right mindset.”
Adebutu brought the ball up the floor and found senior LaMarcus Lee, who had 16 points, near the top of the key but his 3-point attempt was off the back of the rim.
“I’m so happy for my guys and so proud of them,” Dotson said. “It was time for the giant to be slayed. Tonight we slayed the giant.”
MADISON PREP 72, TARA 38: A year ago, MPA reached the semifinals in its first tournament appearance.
The Chargers made short work of Tara (9-9) with an 8-0 start to the game, 19-9 first-quarter lead and 42-21 halftime blitz.
“We wanted to come out and share the ball and get off to a good start,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said. “With a change of venue, we knew logistically some things may be different and wanted to be routine as possible.”
Senior guard Brandon Sampson scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the first half and sophomore Josh Anderson had eight of his 12 in the opening half.
MPA, which shot 47 percent, had nine players score and suffocated Tara into shooting 25 percent and committing 19 turnovers.
Guard Paul Johnson led Tara with 14.
By the time forward Noah Plain ended a 0-of-10 stretch for the Trojans, they trailed 48-26 with two minutes left in the third quarter before consecutive baskets from Malcolm Roach accounted for the final score and Chargers’ biggest lead.
“I’d have to blind to have a letdown because McKinley played all-out,” Jones warned. “If we don’t bring any energy we’ll get beat. It’s a 5A opponent. We’ll be up for it.”