Yoe bows out to McGregor in opening round of basketball playoffs

When Cameron has lost games this season, it’s usually been because of some sort of offensive inefficiency. In Monday’s bi-district contest with McGregor, the Yoemen will be looking back to free-throw shooting. Cameron finished just 10-29 from the charity stripe, and that was the difference in a stinging 63-55 opening round loss.

“When you can’t hit free throws, you’re not going to win games,” said Yoe coach Nick Burns following the loss. “It’s been an achilles heel of ours all season and. Until you hit them, you’re not going to win games.”

McGregor senior guard Michael Irons broke the ice at the 6:45 minute of the mark of the first, sinking a three-point shot. It was a bad omen for Yoe fans, as Irons proceeded to score 21 more points in the half, for a total of 24 in the opening two periods. That was just two short of Cameron’s entire total of 26.

“He made a lot of shots, but every time he went to the rack they gave him a call,” said Burns on Irons, who finished with 7 points from the free-throw line. “I wish that would have went a little both ways, but it is what it is. With a player like that, his reputation proceeds him.”

During Irons’ scoring run, the lead ballooned all the way to 27-13 before Cameron picked away, closing on a 13-5 run to make it a manageable deficit at the half, 43-36.

Included in the peak of McGregor’s run was Yoe turnovers, which totalled 10 in the first half.

“We were denying the middle man and just changing up our rotations and our press,” said Burns on the scheme. “They were widening us out, and instead of running domino, they were running man high. We were able to make some runs, but when we did something else stopped it.”

McGregor coach Jason Taylor knew how big it was for Irons and the rest of the Bulldogs to build some separation early in the game.

“Cameron is so much like us being physical in the full court,” said Taylor. “They run to get after you, so we knew we had to jump up early and withstand some runs. I knew they would come at us with speed and get some steals and easy buckets like they did.”

Levi May, which finished with a team high 20 points for Cameron, scored 9 in the second, including a layup right before the buzzer.

Cameron proceeded to make another push in the third, cutting the lead down to 4 at 43-39 after a nifty assist by Kobe Young to May inside.

The momentum was short-lived, as the next two times up the court, McGregor’s Keilen Hicks - another senior guard - hit back-to-back three point shots to push the lead back to double digits at 49-39.

“I like him to take it to the basket, but he was wide open at the three-point line,” said Taylor. “He let them fly and I was proud of him for putting them in. He had ice in his veins in that situation.”

Cameron had a few mini bursts in the final minutes of the fourth after Hicks and two other Bulldogs fouled out. Dondrick Moore had two quick buckets to make it 59-53, but only two more points were scored to close out the game.

McGregor (19-12) now advances to play the Palestine Westwood. Cameron finishes the season with a 19-14 record.

Stat Leaders
Points: Levi May (20), Kobe Young (12), Dondrick Moore (9), Nico Vargas (8), Keanu McCarter (3), LaRondre Booze (2), Thomas Melton (2).
Rebounds: May (5), Vargas (3), Booze (2), Melton (2), Calvin Stewart (1), McCarter (1), Young (1), Moore (1)