GLEN HAYES – Mingo Central did what many teams haven’t done on Saturday night – win on the home court of the Tolsia Rebels.
Coach Brad Napier’s team edged by the home team 48-47 to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Junior guard Julius Hatcher and senior guard Matt Lester each fired in four 3-pointers and the Miners fought off foul trouble to get their first road victory of the season.
“This was a real big win for us and it was a hard-fought game,” Napier said. “These kids stuck together and kept fighting. It was a great team win.”
Napier told his players that the Rebel’s gym was a tough venue to play in and they had to be prepared.
“We got in some foul trouble,” Napier said. Seniors Austin Banks and Marqus Cunningham both had to sit out several minutes due to be whistled with early fouls.
“Tolsia has a good shooting team and all five of their players can score,” Napier added. “Alex Lee was a warrior tonight. He battled all night and was everywhere on defense. Garth Simpkins came off the bench to pick up two big charges and gave us some good minutes.”
Mingo Central trailed by 10, 38-28, heading into the final quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter Chase Hatfield came out and made a big 3-pointer and was fouled. He completed the 4-point play to cut the lead to 38-35.
The Miners kept battling back and the lead see-sawed back and forth. They pulled out the win after Banks was fouled with 9.8 seconds left in the game. He made one of two, but that put Mingo Central up by one point.
Tolsia took the ball out and then called another time out with :05 seconds left. They got off the final shot, but it was no good and MCHS came away with the huge road win.
Lester and Hatcher each scored 14 points to lead the Miners. Banks only scored seven, but dished out eight assists and pulled down five rebounds.
Cunningham ended up with five points, but hit two baskets late in the game when they counted, according to coach Napier. Lee and Hatfield each added four points. Lee also hauled in six rebounds and Lester had five boards.
“We just need to keep working and get better every day – in practice and in our games,” Napier said. “I’m really proud of the way our team battled.”
Mingo Central was still cold at the free throw line. They were 8-18 for 44 percent. That is something Napier and assistant coach Julius “Boo” Hatcher have stressed to the team. The need to knock down their foul shots, especially in tight games.
Austin Brewer led Tolsia with 14 points, while Morgan Davis had 13, Terry Davis 10, Jared Stroud six and Brandon Clark four.
Mingo Central will play at Chapmanville on Friday as Napier goes up against former Williamson High coach Allan Hatcher. The Miners will also play Saturday night in the Coalfield Shootout at the Madison Civic Center. They will take on the host Scott Skyhawks.