TEMPERANCE — When Dylan Barr hit a shot that tied the game early in the fourth quarter, it gave Bedford enough energy to believe that it could continue to keep pace with Milan in Friday night’s Class A district boys basketball championship.
Then, with less than 90 seconds left in the game, Jackson Lamb’s 3-pointer brought the Kicking Mules within two and gave them another boost of confidence.
But that boost was short-lived as Bedford fell 67-60 as the Mules couldn’t piece together a final run.
The Big Reds (21-1) hit two free throws on their next possession and outscored the Mules 9-4 in the final 47 seconds.
“They got a lot of points off turnovers, at half-court, and they came out doubling [Bedford guard] Brad [Boss],”said Lamb, who finished with 25 points. “They went to the ball, and we didn’t.”
Milan advances to the regional Monday at Wyandotte Roosevelt, and did so despite Bedford at times neutralizing 6-foot-5 forward Calvin Turnage. Turnage finished with 17 points but scored only five in the second and third quarters.
With his team down 15-13 after the first quarter, Lamb paced the Mules with six points in the second quarter as Bedford (18-3) opened the period on an 8-0 run and its defense shut down Turnage.
Turnage paced Milan with nine points in the first quarter but scored only three in the second, part of a 2-for-7 shooting effort by the Big Reds, who trailed 30-21 at halftime.
“They stopped letting me get to the basket,” Turnage said. “I was struggling. I was angry because we started losing the lead but in the second half, we started turning it around. We started scoring with the defensive stops and off transition. That’s really important because that’s how we’ve played all of our games this season. That’s how we’ve won.
“We weren’t doing that in the first half. We did that in the second half and it got us a lead.”
Latin Davis and Stephen Evans provided reinforcement for Milan in the third. Davis scored nine of his 25 points in the third, in which Milan chipped away at Bedford’s nine-point lead.
Donavan Verges’ 3-pointer cut Bedford’s lead to 42-41 with 1:20 left in the third, and Davis’ long 3-pointer seconds before the buzzer gave Milan a 47-45 lead going into the fourth, its first lead since the fifth minute of the game.
Barr tied the game for Bedford at 51 with 5:18 left in the fourth, but Nick Perkins’ free throw gave the lead back to the Big Reds, who outscored the Mules 7-2 in the next four minutes.
After Lamb’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 58-56, Verges stretched Milan’s lead back to four and kicked off the game’s final run.
It ended a great season for the Mules, who won the school’s first league championship in history by winning the Southeastern Conference Red Division title.
“It was really a game of runs,” Bedford coach Nick Lowe said. “Each team took a turn on runs. We got a little unlucky in the middle of one of their runs. We got a little discombobulated. We got it back up to four and they banked a 3 in from the wing. That kind of added to it a little bit.
“They made some shots when they needed to make shots, and our kids battled.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.