BAKERSVILLE - Providing a strong effort on the defensive end and keeping a presence on the boards has been the calling card for the McDowell Titans and their 3-0 start early this season.
Some of those traits unfortunately did not translate onto the floor Friday night in game four of the season as the Titans suffered 66-59 loss on the road at Mitchell.
McDowell (3-1) over the years has been dominant over their geographical rival on the hardwood but Friday’s loss was a true rarity. Looking at the game from an offensive standpoint, both teams were similar in the stat book.
The Titans had two players in double figures. Qualique Garner finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. All of Garner’s points came in the second half with 14 of them in the third quarter alone. Dylan McRary (4 steals, 2 assists, 2 rebounds) added 16 points.
The Mountaineers had three players in double figures with Caius Peterson leading the way with 17 points, Zeus Ponder added 13 points and Tyler McKinney scoring 12 points.
McDowell took care of the basketball for the most part committing 10 turnovers for the game compared to Mitchell’s 17 giveaways. It was on the glass where the game was decided as the Mountaineers received a good number of second and third chances offensively and overall held a 34-26 rebounding advantage on the night.
In a contest that featured six lead changes, both teams were tied at 10-10 after one quarter and most of the second quarter was dead even until the final two minutes where Mitchell took its final lead of the night. With 2:38 left in the half McRary converted the back end of a two-shot foul to give the Titans a 25-22 advantage. Ponder then answered with a 3-pointer from the wing, tying the score with 2:13 left and then after a missed shot Jess Ledford put the Mountaineers in front scoring at the 1:50 mark in transition off a Noah Pittman assist.
The lead went from there to 34-29 at the half and to a seven-point Mitchell advantage after three quarters. McDowell was never able to get much closer the rest of the way as both squads essentially traded baskets the rest of the way.
It was a 63-57 score as close as the 2:01 mark in regulation. McRary missed an important front-end of a one and bonus at the 1:39 mark. Caleb Pritchard then scored off a Pittman assist 30 seconds later to put the game away.
Trent Lewis (5 rebounds, 2 steals) finished with eight points for McDowell in a losing effort. Trenton Gragg hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half to finish with six points. J.C. Olivo and Dequan Boyce had three points each. Adam Randolph and Andruw Randolph netted two points each and Richard Handy scored one point.
McDowell will be on the road Tuesday at East Burke.