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Controversial ending costs Coalfield shot at state tourney

By Taylor Crombie

The Coalfield Yellow Jackets came out strong and attacked early in the Class A Sectional against the North Greene Huskies, but things just did not go their way in the end. The Jackets held a two-point lead with 13 seconds left in the game after the Huskies made a big comeback in the second half. North Greene caught a huge break in the final seconds of the game in the form of two questionable technical fouls on Coalfield to defeat the Jackets 79-75.

“The kids played a great game,” Coalfield head coach Daniel Byrd said. “It’s unfortunate how things happened there late, for it to be pulled out of our hands. The kids played good, I’m proud of them and they played a heck of a season.”

The Jackets started off hot and put up nine unanswered points to take an early lead. North Greene finally got some shots to fall towards the middle of the period, but Coalfield held a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter behind eight points from Parker McKinney.

Coalfield continued to shoot the ball well in the second quarter, but free throws were what kept North Greene in the game and prevented the Jackets from adding much onto their lead. The Huskies only scored nine points from the field, but made eight of 14 free throws. The Jackets still outscored them by two, giving them a 34-26 led at halftime.

After Coalfield opened the second half with a 7-1 run, the Huskies flipped a switch and started making a comeback. North Greene took off on a 17-2 run to take a one-point lead with two and a half minutes left in the period. McKinney and Seth Lowe got the Jackets’ offense going again and put up nine points at the end of the frame to keep Coalfield ahead 52-50 headed into the final period of play.

The Huskies were determined to take over the game, but Coalfield never let them get ahead for long. With about a minute and a half left, the Huskies took a three-point lead thanks to a bucket from Andy Stevens.

The Jackets missed what would have been the game-tying three and North Greene pulled down the rebound. The Huskies lost control of the ball on their end of the court and Tyler Keathley pounced on it to put it back in the Jackets’ hands with 50 seconds left.

Coalfield was unable to capitalize and quickly turned the ball over. Zane Potter drew a foul on North Greene’s next possession and made both free throws to make it a five-point game. Lance Byrd answered with a 3-pointer, then Coalfield immediately called a time out with 21 seconds left in the game.

Keathley fouled out trying to prevent Stevens from shooting, sending him to the free throw line. Stevens made the first one, but missed the second. Coalfield got the rebound, as well as a personal and technical foul on Stevens, sending McKinney to the line with 13 seconds remaining.

McKinney made three out of four to tie the game with Coalfield still in possession of the ball. McKinney then drove into the lane and made the layup to give the Jackets a 75-73 lead.

The turn of events that unfolded next is something Coalfield will likely never forget.

After McKinney scored, the Jackets immediately called a time out with 6.4 seconds left on the clock. During the time out, the time on the clock was changed to .7 seconds, causing lots of confusion on the sidelines. After an official time out, the clock was changed again to 5.2 seconds.

Potter drew a foul immediately after North Greene threw the ball inbounds. He missed the first free throw, but made the second to make it a one-point game.

All the Jackets had to do to win was get the ball inbounds and hold on to it. McKinney’s pass bounced off a North Greene defender out of bounds. McKinney turned to the official to ask what the call was and charged with a technical foul. At the same time, Coalfield’s coaches were furiously trying to call a time out, which resulted in another technical foul on the Jackets.

Potter went to the line for the Huskies for four free throws. He missed the first, but made the other three to put North Greene up 77-75 with 4.4 seconds remaining and the ball still under the Huskies’ control.

Potter was fouled again and made both free throws, bringing the score to 79-75.

Unfortunate is an understatement, but Byrd was still proud of the way the Jackets continued to fight even with their backs up against the wall.

“They deserved this game and I can’t say enough about how resilient they were today,” he said.

McKinney, who was determined to get the Jackets to the state tournament, played exceptionally hard all game and led all scorers with 32 points.

“This was his best game of this season,” Byrd said. “He looked like the Parker of last year tonight.”

Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Jackets and their fans have plenty to be proud of. Coalfield played the first half of the year without McKinney, and made big run when he returned after Christmas to end up in the sectional.

“The kids played really well without Parker when they needed to,” Byrd said. “When Parker got back, I really felt like we were going to make a deep run here and we had a good run at it. They were playing good late, it’s just unfortunate.”

Coalfield (75) Keathley 15, Peyton McKinney 3, Byrd 3, Jones 5, Parker McKinney 32, Lowe 9, Kilby 6, Carroll 2.

North Greene (79) Stevens 25, Pierce 8, Bailey 16, Malone 3, Potter 18, Smith 9.