Cat can’t be denied, Bogue Chitto bests New Site to reach 2A title game

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

In a game that was close from the opening tip until the final buzzer, Bogue Chitto went ahead one final time with 54 seconds remaining and clamped down on defense from then on out to claim a 53-50 win over the New Site Royals in the MHSAA 2A semifinals on Wednesday at the Mississippi Coliseum.

The Bobcats and coach Marc Howard will be back at the Big House to play in the 2A title game on Friday at 4 p.m. It will be the first state championship game appearance for Bogue Chitto since the Bobcats made the finals in 1993 as a 1A program.

BC led 48-45 late in the fourth quarter after senior guard Shomari Jenkins made both free throws for the Bobcats, but the Royals from Prentiss County and northeast Mississippi had one more run left in them.

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New Site (23-7) junior Kade Hughes made 1-of-2 free throws to put his team up 50-48 with just over one minute left in regulation.

Bogue Chitto (29-1) responded by going to who else, junior guard Devonta “Bam” Thompson, with the season on the line.

Thompson drove in and made a basket while being fouled. He knocked down the free throw to put his team up 51-50 with 54 seconds left.

The teams then traded empty possessions before New Site called a timeout with 12 seconds left to set up a final possession out of a sideline out of bounds. Senior Daniel Wildmon missed the game winner for the Royals and Bogue Chitto sophomore forward Tripp McCaffrey secured the rebound and made two more free throws to provide the final margin and set off a celebration among the Bobcat faithful who’d come to Jackson.

Thompson, the best player on the court, finished with a game-high 23 points.

New Site was led by 6-foot-5 senior forward Dallas Pounds with 17 points. Wildmon scored 17 points as well.

This was the second straight year for the Bobcats to reach the final four of the 2A bracket and the experience showed lessons learned from last season, when Bogue Chitto was beaten 57-40 by Northside High.

On Tuesday, the Bobcats controlled the pace of the game and were opportunistic on defense against New Site. They battled through foul troubles with improved depth from last season and played some of their tightest defense of the game when they needed it the most.

“We’ve been here in the semifinals before and we’ve been in situations where we’ve been in close ball games this year,” said Howard. “We got this one done on the defensive end late.”

Thompson scored seven points in the opening quarter as Bogue Chitto led 13-11 after the opening eight minutes of action.

The Bobcat offense went cold to start the second quarter though, failing to score until two minutes had passed when Thompson hit a shot that tied the game at 15-15.

Late in the second quarter, Thompson hit a 3-pointer and junior wing Noah Magee scored on a transition layup that put the Bobcats up 28-20 and forced New Site head coach Stephen Deaton to call a timeout.

New Site responded, as the Royals got the hoop and the harm on two straight trips and made the free throws on both those trips to cut the Bogue Chitto advantage to 30-28 at the break.

Back-to-back baskets by Magee in the third quarter again forced a New Site timeout and the Royals again played better after a pep talk, as they cut the lead to 42-41 going into the final quarter.

New Site went up 43-42 early in the third quarter, the first lead for the Royals since they led 15-13 early in the second quarter.

Sophomore Randy Crisler scored seven points for Bogue Chitto while Magee, McCaffrey and Shakell Jenkins all had six points each. Shomari Jenkins rounded out the BC scoring with six points.

Next up for the Bobcats is a title game tilt with the Ingomar Falcons (25-8) who beat Bay Springs 61-45 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.

Bogue Chitto last won a boy’s state championship in 1952 and lost in the title game in 1993, 1978 and 1975.

Ingomar, coached by Jonathan Ashley and located near New Albany in Union County, has won six state championships, most recently in 2020. The Falcons made the state title game three years in a row between 2019-2021.

Ingomar (31-4) and New Site (24-5) will meet in the 2A girls’ championship on Friday at 2 p.m.