Photo/Zac Chamblee

With Bay Springs all tied up at 35 entering the fourth quarter of Friday’s Class 2A title game versus Ingomar, Bulldog coach Corey Mackey recalled a previous conversation he had with senior standout Kevin Grimes. Grimes, a member of the school’s Bruce Stevens-led state championship team in 2015, yearned to lead the Bulldogs to one of his own.

“When it was 35 to 35, I told him [Grimes] ‘Make it happen’,” Mackey said. 

Not even a fourth quarter ankle injury for Grimes could keep he and his teammates from making it happen. After the teams exchanged basket after basket in the quarter to make it 44-44, the Bulldogs delivered the knockout blow with an 8-0 scoring run on the way to a 56-51 win and the school’s second state championship in the last five seasons. 

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With Grimes somewhat limited offensively in the fourth quarter with his injury, freshman Chad Jones stepped up and scored nine of his game-high 21 points, which were just ahead of Grimes’ 20. The Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat with Jones having the game of his life. 

“I joked with his mom and told her that he needed to be ready for this game,” Mackey said. “She was terrified and scared, and I said, ‘Chad’s gonna have to do it for us’.

“I guess now I’m kind of a genius.”

Fueled by revenge, Mackey’s Bulldogs (31-3) were not gonna be denied. The tour concluded at “The Big House” with Bay Springs going 3-for-3 with three straight wins over teams that beat them in the last two seasons, including the Ingomar Falcons, who walked away with a 67-61 win back in January. 

“All week [we talked about revenge],” Mackey said. “We lost to St. Joe’s last year, we lost to Coahoma last year in the state championship, and we lost to them [Ingomar] this year, so we talked about revenge and the last three games being revenge games. We were able to pull it off.”

It was far from easy, especially against Ingomar. The Falcons used an early 8-0 scoring run to jump out to an 8-4 lead, and they led by as many as seven points later in the half. 

“We didn’t play defense well in the first half,” Mackey said. “We were getting caught up on screens and were not helping like we were supposed to. I always told the kids, ‘If you can get me to halftime within less than 20 points, I feel like we can make the adjustments we need to do to win a ballgame’.”

The Bulldogs trailed by only three at half, 27-24. Using some of those adjustments, they opened the third quarter with a 4-0 run to take their first lead since early in the first quarter. Multiple lead changes ensued, but the Bulldogs had the last laugh with that aforementioned 8-0 scoring run late in the fourth quarter. 

“We went out there in the second half and basically locked them up,” Mackey said.  

“It feels great to win this one with the adverse situations. It’s a great win for us and the community.”