Baldwin’s season ends in regional tourney loss

MOUNT PLEASANT — Baldwin was hoping it would snap its three-year losing streak in the Class D regional boys basketball semifinal on Monday.

But defending state semifinalist Fulton (17-6) hit the shots, including 10 3-pointers, to end Baldwin’s season at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart with a 66-54 victory. Fulton advanced to Wednesday’s regional title game against Crossroads.

The Panthers (18-6) had won nine straight games.

Baldwin has lost four straight regional semifinal games.

“We had our chances and we fought back,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “We missed a few executions and missed some baskets (late in the game).”

Colton Antes had the hot hand for Fulton with 28 points, including five 3- pointers.

Sloppy passing hurt the Panthers during the first half. Deondra McDonald scored five points. Blake Dockery hit a 3-pointer to lift Baldwin to a 10-8 advantage after the first eight minutes. Caleb Walden hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter for the Pirates.

“I felt we couldn’t get it going offensively in the first quarter,” Fulton coach Todd Walden said. “Part of that was because of Baldwin’s quickness.”

The Panthers missed several inside shots in the second quarter. Ahmad Goram’s 3-pointer gave Baldwin a 20-16 lead with 2:37 left in the first half. But Antes netted a pair of 3-pointers to lift Fulton to a 24-20 edge at halftime.

Fulton continued to get steals in the second half and built a 33-24 lead early in the third quarter. Copeland’s 3-pointer, followed by two Dockery baskets, cut it to 35-33, Fulton, at 2:54 of the third. Dockery scored later for a 37-37 tie. But the Pirates closed out the third with a 4-0 run and 41-37 lead.

The Pirates scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter for a 48-37 lead. Baldwin rallied to cut it to 48-44 on McDonald’s 3-point play, and McDonald had an encore moments later to cut Fulton’s lead to 51-50. Copeland tied it on a free throw seconds later.

Antes followed with a long 3-pointer for a 54-51 Fulton advantage at 2:25, and Walden did the same 30 seconds later for a 57-51 lead, and the Panthers couldn’t recover.

“Every time (Antes) shoots (the 3-pointer), I expect it to go in,” Walden said. “It wasn’t a surprise to me. He wants the ball in his hands.”

Caleb Walden’s layup gave the Pirates a 62-53 lead with 40 seconds to play to ice the game. He had 12 points.

“After they hit those threes, it was downhill,” Goram said. “It was a great season.”

Dockery led Baldwin with 18 points, while Copeland and McDonald added 14 apiece.

“I felt we had them and I felt we could play with them,” Dillard said. “(Fulton) has won this three years in a row. We have to be like them and learn how to finish games. We had them where we wanted them, but just couldn’t finish.”