METROPOLIS, Ill. - Paducah Tilghman senior Mikey Davis admits he wasn't a great free throw shooter at the start of the season. But, credit to him, he's worked to improve his shot.
The hours upon hours of practice paid off Friday night in the Blue Tornado's 85-81 overtime win against Meridian in the Superman Classic semifinals at Massac County High School. Davis went 9 of 12 at the line in the fourth quarter alone.
"I just had to work on it," he said. "I had to keep my composure. I couldn't let everything get to me. We needed them."
His strong shooting pushes the sixth-seeded Blue Tornado (11-7) into the championship game at 7:45 tonight against top-seeded Carbondale (Ill.). Calloway County plays Massac County, which beat Union County 55-41 on Friday, in the consolation championship at 4:30.
"They're probably just a bigger, stronger version of Meridian," Blue Tornado coach Brad Stieg said of Carbondale. "They're going to attack the rim more."
The Blue Tornado led 54-46 entering the fourth quarter, but their poor shooting from the field allowed the Bobcats (16-2) to narrow the deficit to 61-59. Tilghman's first nine points of the quarter came on free throws, and Davis made eight of those.
Sayveon McEwen's consecutive field goals toward the middle of the quarter were Tilghman's first of the period and helped the Blue Tornado build a five-point lead, 68-63. But their lack of consistent shooting allowed Meridian to take a 73-70 lead.
Andre Strayhorn pulled the Blue Tornado to within one, 73-72, on a breakaway, and Brannon Warfield drained a 3-pointer for a 75-73 lead. However, Davis made just one of his final free throws with 47.1 seconds left in regulation, and Bobcat Conner Schaal made a 3-pointer to even the game at 76.
The Bobcats had a chance to win after Davis traveled with six seconds remaining, but sophomore Devon Hart stole the Bobcats' ensuing pass. He didn't attempt a last-second shot, though, sending the game to overtime, where McEwen made 5 of 6 free throws to help provide the final margin. His last two buckets came with 4.9 seconds left.
The Blue Tornado have now beaten the second- and third-seeded teams in the tournament. All that's left is Carbondale.
"We don't think of it as upsets," Davis said. "We came into every game thinking we're better than everybody."
Meridian 19 34 46 76 81
Paducah Tilghman 19 36 54 76 85
MERIDIAN - Weldon 16, Prewitt 13, Schoffner 7, Schaal 5, Powell 12, Ballard 0, Edmonds 13, Davis 15.
Field goals 21/42. 3-pointers 12/31 (Weldon 4, Powell 4, Prewitt, Schoffner, Schaal, Davis). Free throws 3-9.
PADUCAH TILGHMAN - Sayveon McEwen 17, Dunigan 3, Devon Hart 18, Andre Strayhorn 11, Brannon Warfield 11, Mayes 1, Belt 2, Mikey Davis 20.
Field goals 21/44. 3-pointers 7/29. Free throws 22/33. Record 11-7.
Union County 9 18 29 41
Massac County 16 25 40 55
UNION COUNTY - Fleming 18, Floyd 4, Foster 6, Chaykowsky 5, Ricketson 2, Anglin 3, Dailey 3.
Field goals 12/31. 3-pointers 3/14 (Dailey, Foster, Chaykowsky). Free throws 8/11.
MASSAC COUNTY - Dalton Mitchell 15, Blye 9, Roundtree 9, Kendall 6, Walquist 1, Kyle Reinwald 11, Rose 2, Stoner 2.
Field goals 15/40. 3-pointers 5/17 (Mitchell 2, Reinwald 2, Roundtree). Free throws 10/19.
Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.