FORDYCE — It was Fordyce's home floor and home crowd, but the Redbugs were only able to play one game at their own gymnasium during the Class 3A state tournament.
FORDYCE — It was Fordyce’s home floor and home crowd, but the Redbugs were only able to play one game at their own gymnasium during the Class 3A state tournament.
Fordyce lost in the first round to Episcopal Collegiate 56-51 Tuesday. The game went down to the wire and Fordyce (14-11) had a 44-43 lead with 6:41 left in the game, but both teams traded baskets as Episcopal took a 50-46 lead.
The Redbugs trailed by one point with 2:15 left when Thaxton Tolbert hit a three-pointer, but Devin Hall answered with a bucket down low. Fordyce would only make one bucket the rest of the way, and that was with 6 seconds left.
“We didn’t finish some shots that we normally make,” Fordyce coach Stan Jones said. “Just part of the game, but as far as our effort, we had a good effort.”
Even though Episcopal was the higher seed in the tournament, coach Micah Marsh knew this was going to be a battle until the very end for his team.
“Fordyce is not a four-seed, first of all, and second of all, we are playing on their floor at the state tournament,” he said. “This game made me nervous. They are so athletic and strong and it gave us problems.
“We just stuck with it and stuck with it in the fourth quarter and made some key shots in the end.”
Fordyce had a 29-28 lead at halftime, but Jackson Rawlings put Episcopal up in the third quarter with six straight points to open the second half.
Marsh said Rawlings is the team’s go-to guy when they need a big bucket.
“He stepped up there and gave us a little cushion,” he said. “He’s a good player and I expect that from him and his teammates expect that from him. We are glad he hit some big shots in the second half.”
Rawlings finished with 15 points to lead Episcopal. Hall added 12 and Mahlon Martin scored 10.
For Fordyce, Markel Bulliner scored a game-high 18 points, Michael Hemphill had 14 and Tolbert added 11.
“We all want to advance, but at the end of the tournament time, there is only going to be one happy team,” Jones said. “We just didn’t reach our goal that we anticipate doing.”