By Bryan Davis
The Hebron Christian Eagles spent nearly all four quarters of Monday morning’s game with Tupelo Christian shaking off the rust of the Christmas break, but they finally did so and barely slipped past the opposing Eagles team 54-53.
Tupelo swished a three-point shot at the buzzer, but thanks to a pair of free throw shots sunk by Carlton Clay second earlier, it was unable to do any damage to the Hebron lead.
Hebron did not possess the lead in Monday’s game for very long, but they had it when it counted. At the end of the first quarter, the Tupelo Eagles found themselves on top 17-15.
The game was a shootout, and the Hebron group was in it the entire time, but they had a difficult time getting over the hump to tie or take the lead. Every time Hebron would cut the lead to one or two points, Tupelo would score again to widen the margin.
Three straight shots to start the second quarter gave Tupelo a 23-15 advantage. Chad Smith, however, shot a two-pointer to make it 23-17. Clay added a single point on a free throw shot to make it 23-18.
With 2:34 left to go in the half, Clay put another one up to cut the lead to three. Clay would sink three more shots for five points to finish out the half for Hebron, but when they team went to the locker room, it was down 27-25.
When the game resumed, so did the shooting spree by both teams. Smith put up the first four points for Hebron to start their second half scoring. Will Corbin Rogers put up two, and Clay finished out the scoring with four points in the third quarter. Hebron and Tupelo both finished with 10 points each in the third quarter.
Hebron had eight minutes left to make a move, but it was not going to be easy, still down by two to Tupelo.
Freshman Troy Arnold threw up the first shot of the fourth quarter, getting the Eagles to a tie for the first time since the first quarter. Clay would then give Hebron their first lead of the second half with a two-point shot to make it 39-37.
That lead would eventually grow to three, but Tupelo was right there on the heels of Hebron’s players throughout the final quarter.
With about 3:30 to go in the game, Smith put up four points in a row, keeping his team in front by two points. Clay and Smith exchanged shots for an eventual 50-48 lead with less than two minutes to go in the game.
With nine seconds to go, the Eagles were up 52-50, and Clay was sent to the line for two shots. He put both of them through the net for a 54-50 lead.
Tupelo gave it a valiant effort with a last second three-pointer, but that was all the Tupelo Eagles had time for.
Hebron will finish out their play at the Immanuel Tournament this week, and they will return to the court on January 4, at home, to take on Winston Academy.