By Rick Dunaway
Special to The Globe
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Matt Magee scored a season-high 30 points, including all of his team’s points in overtime, as Carl Junction clawed its way into a three-way share of the Big 8 Conference boys basketball championship on Friday night.
Magee scored a nifty reverse layup, gave the Bulldogs the lead with a hanger in the paint with 35 seconds left, and capped it off with his final two free throws in a 62-59 victory over Mount Vernon.
“When it gets down like that, there’s always going to be butterflies (at the free throw line),” Magee said. “But you’ve just got to step up to the line, do your regular routine, just look at the rim and not think about anything else.”
Magee said he also felt the need to produce for the seniors playing their final game on the Carl Junction court.
“The seniors kept me going tonight, Magee said. “I felt like the seniors put pressure on me to go out there and play my best game to close out the season with a win at home.”
But Magee, a junior guard, didn’t seem to feel much pressure on the court, as he hit nine buckets, including a pair of 3-pointers, and hit 6 of his 9 free throw attempts for his best overall night of the season.
Carl Junction coach Kyle Williams said the seniors stepped up their game down the stretch. But none could match Magee.
“The bottom line tonight was that we were tougher,” Williams said. “I don’t know that I could say that at the beginning of the year. But I believe Matt Magee made a case tonight and probably should be named conference player of the year.”
A pair of 3-pointers from the left wing by Magee leading up to the final minute of the first half gave the Bulldogs a seven-point halftime edge at 30-23.
There were three lead changes and five ties in the first half until Magee gave Carl Junction its biggest lead to that point at nine points.
But the see-saw battle was just getting started.
Carl Junction opened up an 11-point lead twice in the third quarter – first at the 4:37 mark on a 3-pointer by Dustin Satterlee and again on a mid-range jumper by Travis Vogt, who finished with 16 points. Satterlee added 10 for the Bulldogs.
Mount Vernon responded with a 9-1 run, fueled by Shane Williams and Zane Phillips, to close out the quarter down by just three points.
But the fourth quarter saw Mount Vernon’s Chandler Myers get hot, hitting consecutive follow shots for a 45-44 lead – the Mountaineers’ first since the opening seconds of the second quarter.
Myers, a sophomore, finished with a team-high 20 points. Phillips added 14 and Williams chipped in 12.
Mount Vernon coach Skip Brock remained upbeat after the game, despite having to share the conference title with two other teams.
“It was just what you’d expect from two really good teams going at it, toe-to-toe,” Brock said. “I’m so proud of the way our kids fought back and took the lead. A couple of breaks here and there … that’s the way the game goes.
“Even though it’s disappointing that we now just share the conference championship, we are really hoping this game will help prepare us for next week in the district,” Brock said.