JACKSON — Jonas Spivey scored 23 points and Bruce Stevens added 20 as Bay Springs High School outscored Newton High School 10-2 in the second overtime to claim a 68-61 win in the MHSAA Class 2A semifinals Thursday.
The Tigers committed 33 team fouls to the Bulldogs’ 19, and had three separate players foul out, ultimately costing them in the end.
“I’m proud of those kids. Those guys gave me everything they had in the tank,” Newton coach Darrin Gray said. “We just got into some foul trouble, and we had some key guys on the bench and that made a difference. We had some kids that normally don’t play that much that had to step in, and I thought they did a great job.
Newton forced a second overtime period after senior forward Marcus Blalock connected on a 3-pointer from the corner, tying the game 58-58.
“He did a great job for us,” Gray said of his senior, who finished with eight points. “In practice, we work on (end of the game situations) like that and trying to get a shot off in four or five seconds. So that paid off for us.
“Everyone got their money worth’s in this game.”
Isaiah Edwards led Newton with 23 points and four assists.
“We’re a family at the end of the day, and we’re going to stay together,” the junior guard said. “We wanted to show everyone that this is where we are supposed and that we aren’t a fluke. We played hard and we always stayed together.”
The Tigers appeared poised to clinch a spot in the state finals leading by two points with possession in the final minute of regulation. But a costly Edwards turnover led to a Bay Springs basket and an eventual 53-53 tie at the end of regulation.
“I want to get back and start grinding (today). I want to get back in the gym and improve," Edwards said. “I want to improve on my mistakes; I can’t have turnovers like that."
Bay Springs outrebounded Newton 52-38 thanks in large part to its considerable size advantage.
The Bulldogs played three players listed 6-foot-3 or taller, including Stevens at 6-foot-8, while Blalock was the Tigers’ tallest player who saw minutes at 6-foot-2.
“We have confidence in each other,” Edwards said. “No matter what coach (Gray) asks of us to do. We are going to be 100 percent behind him.”
Gray assigned 5-foot-11 sophomore Austin Taylor with the difficult task of having to guard Stevens.
“We asked him to just get in there and man up,” Gray said. “He pushed and he banged with him, and he left everything on the floor. (Stevens) is a good player; he’s one of the better players in the state. I’m proud of Austin; he gave everything he had.”
Dartaevis Bender and DeAngelo Flowers each had 11 points for Newton before fouling out.
In just his second-year at the helm, Gray said what his squad was able to accomplish this season speaks to the potential of Newton basketball.
“This just says the program is on the rise,” Gray said. “We have a lot of young kids. We have basketball players on this team. This is going to be a stepping stone for us.”