The 3A Commerce Tigers narrowly escaped with a victory after a scrappy comeback effort from the visiting 4A Crandall Pirates as they won 50-47 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers led by double digits halfway through the final quarter, but the Pirates capitalized on some costly errors to claw back into contention, cutting the deficit to as little as two points in the final minute.
Crandall started the game off strong, jumping to an 8-2 lead in what was shaping up to be a defensive struggle. Commerce went on a short run to go ahead for the first time at 10-9. The Tigers held a slim 12-11 advantage after one quarter.
It took almost three minutes of game time for the first points of the second quarter to be scored, and the Pirates then looked to be back in the driver’s seat as they got out to a six-point advantage. The Tigers battled back, however, and recaptured the lead in the final minute of the frame.
A late Crandall bucket put the team ahead 20-19 as the teams broke for halftime.
The third quarter was all Commerce as they jumped out to a 9-0 run to start the frame. The Tigers continued to lead as the Pirates stabilized and began to match scoring pace. With one final quarter remaining, Commerce found itself ahead 34-27.
The Tigers once again had an early scoring push and widened the gap to more than 10 points very early on. As the final minutes began to tick away, Commerce still held a comfortable margin. But a fire seemed to be lit under the Crandall players, and they began hitting almost every shot they took in the final two minutes of the game.
Commerce struggled to answer, but found themselves in a favorable position as a plethora of Pirate fouls put them in the double bonus for the final minute. Charlie Walker attempted two free throws for the Tigers with four seconds remaining that would put his team up by four. After draining the first shot, the second shot bounced off of the back of the rim and was swarmed by multiple Crandall players.
However there was no final shot attempt as a tenacious Tiger defense stripped the ball away as time expired, preserving the 50-47 victory.
Sammy Brown and Brad Caldwell each led Commerce with 13 points, with Caldwell’s coming off of the bench on six-of-nine shooting. Brown also had two rebounds and an assist while Caldwell snagged 10 boards and had two assists.
Jacorey Foster scored nine points and had two rebounds. Walker put seven on the board and had four boards and three assists.
Myles Boyd only scored four points but added a team-high 14 rebounds and three assists. Both Kendall Carter and Jamar Guster had two points.
The Tigers didn’t shoot well as a team, going just 36 percent from the floor. This figure wasn’t helped by Commerce’s 25 percent shooting from three-point-range.
Head Coach Roger Brown said that the win feels good no matter how close it was.
“Even when the game goes that way, a win is still a win, and it’s good to keep the kids’ heads up,” Brown said. “We are still a pretty inexperienced bunch, so this is a learning experience.”
Brown added that it was “kind of fun and exciting” to be working with such a fresh group of faces on varsity, and that there will be plenty of lessons to learn as the team embarks on a long streak of games away from home.
The victory brings the Tigers to 2-2 on the season. Commerce will next head south for the Edgewood Tournament from Thursday to Saturday. The Tigers do not play at home again until January.