Watson Chapel stumbled down the stretch Tuesday on Senior Night, dropping a 48-45 decision to Little Rock Mills in 5A-Southeast Conference action.

Watson Chapel stumbled down the stretch Tuesday on Senior Night, dropping a 48-45 decision to Little Rock Mills in 5A-Southeast Conference action.

The Wildcats failed to score in the final 4:01 and squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth period to drop to 14-13 overall and 7-7 in the league. JoviOne Bailey had a chance to tie it with a three with 6 seconds left, but his shot bounced off the front iron.

“They have a good ballclub,” Watson Chapel coach Matt Busch said of Mills. “We played our seniors alot and they did a good job. I thought they played hard. I’m not upset about how we played.”

The Wildcats still enter the Class 5A state tournament at Greene County Tech in Paragould as the No. 3 seed from the Southeast and will play the No. 2 seed from the East at 8:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

Busch opened the game with five seniors on the floor as Caleb Goss, Quinton Dockett, T.J. Handley, Xavier Westmoreland and Rodney Ollison helped Watson Chapel out to an 11-5 lead in the opening frame. Mills battled back to take a 25-20 lead at the half before the Wildcats went on a 17-5 run to end the third and led 41-32 with 6:22 left in the game.

But Watson Chapel scored only four points the rest of the way as Mills (19-6, 12-2) picked up the pace down the stretch.

“We normally play with a lot of tempo and pace,” Mills coach Raymond Cooper said. “They did a great job of taking that away from us. They did a good job handling our pressure and they set it up and got into their sets. That slowed the tempo down. About the four-minute mark, I told the guys to speed it up.”

The Wildcats were seemingly still in control of the game after Ollison scored two of his team-leading 15 points for a 43-34 advantage. But on the Comets’ ensuing trip down the floor, Braylon Spicer connected from long range and an intentional foul was whistled against Watson Chapel after the ball was released. The basket counted, Jerale Lovelace made both free throws and Shyheim Barron made two more from the stripe after being fouled on the inbounds play as the Comets scored seven unanswered points to trim the lead to two points, 43-41.

Bailey answered with two free throws on the other end, but Mills scored the rest of the points on three consecutive trips down the floor.

Spicer led Mills with 12 points while Markale Lovelace added 11 and Barron had 10.

Tevin Brown added 11 for the Wildcats.