MURRAY - The situation looked bleak for Mayfield when Hickman County's Ethan Carter sank a 3-pointer with 4:38 left before halftime, extending the Falcons' lead to 21-9. Somehow the Cardinals persevered and mounted a comeback that lifted them to 50-39 victory Saturday night in a boys First Region tournament first-round game at Murray State's CFSB Center.
Ultimately, it was a 25-11 run culminating in Marshall Bacon's layup with 6:30 left in the game that put Mayfield ahead 34-32, and the Cardinals maintained things in the game's final 3:28 by hitting 10 of 14 free throws.
"Coach (Chris) Guhy told us that offensively we had to hit shots," said Bacon, who scored a game-high 15 points and went 7 for 10 from the charity stripe. "The first half we got good looks, we just couldn't get anything in the basket. The second half we hit shots, we hit our foul shots and hit a couple of threes and that was the thing we needed to do. We just couldn't knock them down in the first half. We also played better defensively and rebounded better."
With the win, Mayfield (13-15) moves on to the region semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Monday against Marshall County, a 66-58 winner over St. Mary on Saturday.
"It's going to be a tough game for us, but when you get to the final four that's the way it's supposed to be," Guhy said. "But I like my team, and I like the way they work together. I don't have one vocal leader, but I have a bunch of guys that lead with the way they play. I like this team, and I like our chances. We're kind of the Cinderella team."
After shooting just 4 of 17 from the floor in the first half, Mayfield went 8 for 17 in the second half and also drained 17 of 24 from the free-throw line. Hickman County saw the reverse happen as it went from making 9 of 25 from the field in the first to connecting on just 5 of 20 in the second.
"We just struggled putting the ball in the basket in the first half. Even though we got good looks, we just couldn't get them to fall," Guhy said. "We were 2 of 5 from the 3-point line in the first half, and we knew we had to keep battling. I knew we were getting good shots, we just had to keep playing. Hickman County was getting too many second rebounds and second shots in the second quarter, and we needed to have those. They were outhustling us and getting all the loose balls. We had to match that hustle, and we did better with that in the second half."
Aside from Bacon's 15 points, Mayfield also had Haley Ballard drop in 14 points. Both Bacon and Ballard led the Cardinals with six rebounds.
Hickman County (14-11) was led by Billy Speed's 14 points, and Ryan Harpole had the team high of six boards.
The Falcons managed to tie it one more time, 36-36, with 4:40 to play on a Speed drive.
The Cardinals responded with their free-throw streak, starting with Ballard's two with 3:28 to go, leading to a game-ending 14-2 run and what would be the final score on two more Ballard freebies with 17.4 seconds on the clock.
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Mayfield 9 23 30 50
Hickman County 7 16 29 39
MAYFIELD - Marshall Bacon 15, Taye Love 8, Jake Guhy 7, Lane Kennemore 5, Haley Ballard 14, Kyle Downing 1, Nick Felts, Zach Tyler .
Field goals 12/34. 3-pointers 3/7 (Guhy, Ballard 2). Free throws 23/34. Rebounds 32. Fouls 18. Record 13-15.
HICKMAN COUNTY - Nate Newton 4, Ethan Carter 6, Ryan Harpole 7, Harley Hinshaw 2, Billy Speed 14, Rayshun Shields 6, Austin Boaz, Hayden Spillman.
Field goals 14/44. 3-pointers 5/17(Speed 2, Harpole, Carter 2). Free throws 6/12. Rebounds 31. Fouls 20. Record 14-11.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.