EMPORIA — Talk about a momentum swing.
After racing ahead 33-26 at halftime, the Macksville High School boys’ basketball team watched South Gray climb back on Friday night.
But Adam Oak dropped in a pair of 3-pointers to pull things in the Mustangs’ favor, leading Macksville to a Class 1A-Division I state tournament semifinal win over the Rebels, 62-54.
With the win, Macksville advanced to the state championship game against South Haven on Saturday.
“We shot the ball pretty well tonight,” Macksville head coach Jeff Kuckelman said. “We shot the ball like I know we can shoot the ball. Like I say, you got to hit shots like that if you want to go on to a state championship game.”
Macksville opened the third quarter with two points from Taylor Tranbarger at the 6:45 mark, but the Rebels began a 6-0 run that finished with three minutes and three seconds remaining in the period, closing the Mustangs’ lead to 35-32.
Oak, who led the Mustangs with a game-high 19 points, drained a 3-ball from the right wing at 2:34 remaining in the quarter.
“They started coming back,” Oak said. “They started to make a run and being the point guard, I felt like I had to step up for my team and be a leader.
“I was kind of feeling it, so I just came off that curl and just put it up. Thank God, it went in.”
On the Rebels’ following possession, Oak stole the ball, advanced down the court and dropped in another 3. Oak finished the game 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.
“Huge momentum shift for us,” Kuckelman said. “You know, we’ve been talking for a few weeks about how you’re going to have to hit some big shots, if you want to win a state championship, and he certainly did that. He came down and hit two big shots in a row.
“It really shifted momentum our way, and I thought we really battled them on defense.”
The only time South Gray led in the game was right after the opening tip, but at the 6:16 mark, Seth Filbert put up a 3-pointer to tie the game at 3-all. Filbert finished with 11 points.
Filbert’s 3 sparked a 14-2 run that gave the Mustangs a lead that it maintained throughout the first half.
“We moved the ball well and we shared the ball well,” Kuckelman said of his team building an early lead. “We created some good shots. I thought we were doing a good job of moving people and getting to open areas.”
Kyle Bunker went 2-for-14 from the field, but went to the free-throw line and hit 7 of 8 for 87.5 percent. Bunker finished the game with 11 points and four rebounds.
“(Bunker) did a good job for us,” Kuckelman said. “You know, he’s big in there. He got rebounds and attacked the basket. He didn’t get some of the shots that he normally hits, but hopefully he hits them (in the championship game).”
Senior post player Derek Bevan reeled in nine boards to lead the Mustangs.
CLASS 1A-DIVISION I
Montezuma-South Gray 54
Adolfo Ibarra 2 1-2 5, Jorge Baray 1 0-0 3, Kyle Bunker 2 7-8 11, Seth Filbert 5 0-3 11, Adam Oak 5 4-4 19, Taylor Tranbarger 1 3-6 5, Derek Bevan 3 2-2 8. Totals 22 8-13 57.
SOUTH GRAY (23-2)
Storm Mosher 1 0-0 2, Austin Love 4 0-0 8, Garret Watkins 3 0-0 6, Garrison Hendricks 5 0-0 11, Derek Ridenour 3 4-8 10, Ronald Martens 4 3-4 11, Wyatt Slaven 3 0-0 6. Totals 23 7-12 54.
South Gray 11 15 10 18 — 54
Macksville 19 14 14 15 — 62
Three-point goals — Macksville 7 (Oak 5, Filbert, Baray); Montezuma-South Gray 1 (Hendricks).