DUMAS — McGehee punched its ticket to the Class 4A state tournament Thursday with a 59-50 win over Malvern in the 4A South Regional.

DUMAS — McGehee punched its ticket to the Class 4A state tournament Thursday with a 59-50 win over Malvern in the 4A South Regional.

Second-seeded McGehee (18-7) overcame a 25-20 halftime deficit with a 10-2 run to open the third period.

Zack Ellis paced the Owls with 22 points, including two consecutive baskets during the run to pull McGehee to within a point at 27-26. He touched the run off with an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Owls up 33-30 with 3:30 left in the third.

Once McGehee took its first lead since the final play of the opening stanza (12-10), the Owls went to a full-court pressure defense that created three consecutive turnovers. Dontez Racy, who followed Ellis in scoring with 13 points turned the turnovers to easy layups on the other end off the pressure.

“That was a turning point in the game,” McGehee coach Jerome Pace said. “He got those points off our pressure … off somebody else’s hustle. He was pretty down because he wasn’t hitting the three early. Those easy baskets helped get him back in the game.”

The Owls outscored the Leopards 21-7 in the third for a 41-32 advantage and led by seven, 43-36, with 5:42 remaining. Marcel Bedford reeled the Owls back in with a trey and a layup, but 45-41 was as close as Malvern would get as Ellis and Racy exchanged points down the stretch.

“Those guys are going to lead us in scoring pretty much every night,” Pace said. “We depend on them on offense. They did their job. And (Dale) Bass did a great job on defense on their big man. That’s hard to defend when you have a big man like that down there.”

Bass was instrumental on the defensive end with five blocked shots and six boards posted up against Malvern’s Briseton Barnes, who was limited to 12 points which led the Leopards. Khalid Dawn followed with 10.

Malvern attempted multiple defenses to ground the Owls, but couldn’t come up with one that would work with any regularity.

Pace said he expects to see that trend continue as the competition gets stiffer down the stretch.

“We are not changing anything at this point,” Pace said. “We play inside out and we will keep playing inside out. We are not going to do anything different than we normally do. You can play whatever defense you want.”

The win set up today’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal tilt against top-seeded Pulaski Academy. PA earned its way into the semis with a 64-36 thumping of Star City in Wednesday’s opening round.