Concord had three potential game-tying shots fall awry in the final minute as Bay held on for its second Class 1A state championship in the past three years with a 54-51 victory over the Pirates on Thursday at Barton Coliseum.
“They made some big shots,” said Concord Coach Keith Cornett. “They are a good basketball team and tough to defend. They just made one more run than we did it seemed like.
“We felt like we were as good as they are but we knew we would have to play well. We saw them in the state tournament, where they just dismantled three teams but we played well down there also. We felt like this was our year to get them and we battled and fought, but we just came up a little short,” added Cornett.
The Pirates defeated Bay by double figures on a neutral floor at Buffalo Island Central early in the season, but the Yellowjackets had a new weapon this time in 6-5 freshman Jonathan Crain, who pulled down eight rebounds and chipped in four points while clogging up the lane and forcing the Pirates to take difficult shots.
“He [Crain] impacted the whole state tournament,” said Bay Coach Brad Brannen. “He is a big key and we talked about that at the beginning of the year. When we moved him up his job was not to score but to rebound, alter shots and bang against the big guys. I thought he changed the game when he came in.”
Concord, which hit its first four shots of the game, including three by senior forward Ryan Cornelison, finished 36.7 percent (18-49) from the field for the game, while Bay shot 38 percent (19-50). The Pirates connected on 6 of 21 shots from beyond the arc and 9 of 15 free throw attempts. Bay hit 5 of 18 three-pointers and finished 11 of 19 at the charity stripe.
“We played hard and we took good shots for the most part,” said Cornett. “They tried to neutralize [Roark] a bunch and that's what they should do with him averaging 30 points per game in the postseason.”
Concord controlled the opening tip and Cornelison promptly ripped a three-pointer from right wing. Cornelison then drilled a 19-foot jumper up top the next time down the floor, giving the Pirates an early 5-2 lead.
Leading 5-4, Cornelison scored again, this time slashing right side of lane for a layup. After the Pirates forced a turnover, junior guard Luke Cornett buried a three-pointer from right wing, boosting Concord's lead to 10-4 and forcing Bay to use a timeout with 5:48 left in the opening period.
Brannen said the 'Jackets decided to change defensive strategy during the early timeout. “We went over two or three different ways to guard them because Roark is so good. The way they jumped out on us was my fault. I put out a defense that we probably shouldn't have been playing, because No. 10 (Cornelison) and No. 5 (Cornett) stepped up big and lit it up.”
Page 2 of 3 - Following the break in action, Bay senior guard Tyson Oliver popped a three-pointer from left elbow and forward Dylan Loven added a driving basket, plus contact and he completed the three-point play.
Tied at 10-all, Roark quickly responded with four points on two drives, including a blow by down right baseline, where he finished with a spectacular reverse layup in traffic.
Oliver used a crossover to get free for a three-pointer up top as the 'Jackets pulled within one before Roark drove left side and dropped a hanger over two defenders, giving Concord a 16-13 lead entering the second quarter.
Oliver opened the second with four quick points on a floater and pull up jumper, while the Pirates managed a free throw from junior power forward Ethan Hebert, who pulled down an offensive rebound and used a ball fake to draw contact.
Tied at 17-all, Cornett nailed a deep three-pointer from right wing off an assist from Cornelison. After Loven and Hebert each made a free throw, Loven scored on a third chance putback as Bay, which outrebounded the Pirates 40-28, began to assert itself inside.
With the Pirates leading 21-20, Bay guards Matt Holt and Zach Johnson sank consecutive three-pointers, suddenly giving the 'Jackets a five-point cushion, causing Concord to burn a timeout.
Concord pulled within two on a free throw from Hebert and two more by Cornelison, but Oliver made a smooth spin move into the lane and finished with a leaner. Oliver then picked a steal, which led to a breakaway layup by Loven as the 'Jackets took a 30-24 lead to the locker room.
Hoyt turned an offensive rebound into a free throw and 31-24 lead for Bay early in the third quarter before the Pirates came storming back, beginning when Hebert caught the ball on the left block and split two defenders for a bucket.
Cornett followed with a three-pointer up top off an assist from Hebert, who drew a double team. Roark then added four straight, driving coast-to-coast and hitting a tough bank shot, then willing his way to the basket with a powerful drive and layup.
The Pirates took a 33-31 lead on Roark's second basket, but Bay tied the game before Roark sank a pull up jumper from left elbow, giving Concord its final lead of the game at 35-33 midway through the third period.
The 'Jackets used an 8-0 run to take control as Oliver sank a free throw, forward Tyler Pritchett followed his own miss for two, Holt drained a three-pointer from left wing and Crain scored deep in the paint off an assist from Oliver.
Concord regrouped with a timeout and closed the third quarter with a 4-0 spurt, including a short turnaround jumper by Cornelison and a difficult shot inside by Cornett, who pulled down a lob pass from Roark and scored over Oliver.
Page 3 of 3 - With Bay clinging to a 41-39 lead entering the final eight minutes of play, Pritchett scored off a back cut, but Concord responded when Hebert scored off a high baseline inbound pass lofted from Cornelison.
Oliver was fouled on a three-point attempt and sank 2 of 3 to give Bay a 45-41 lead, which the 'Jackets extended to six moments later on a putback by Loven.
With 2:30 remaining, Bay pushed its lead to 50-43 on a runner by Holt, but Cornett hit two free throws and forward Hanse Bowman ripped a three-pointer from left corner off an assist from Cornett, trimming the Pirates' deficit to three.
Oliver gave Bay a 53-48 lead with a pair of free throws before Cornett countered with a three-pointer from left elbow and the Pirates' full-court pressure forced a turnover as Concord took control of the ball down by a bucket with 1:01 left.
Bay held defensively, but once again committed a turnover, allowing Concord a second chance to tie or take the lead. The 'Jackets held a second time as Oliver secured the defensive rebound and passed to Loven, who sank the front end of the two-shot foul.
Loven missed the second, leaving the door open for Concord to tie, but Roark's pull up three-pointer from left wing over Bay forward Kylor Skaggs sailed wide of the mark, as Bay celebrated a state championship.
“I had a good look,” said Roark.
It may have been a good look for Roark, and one he makes roughly half the time, but it was a difficult shot having to stop on a dime and shoot over an outstretched defender.
Oliver, who was named MVP, led Bay with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with a team-high four assists. Loven added 13 points and Holt had 11 for the Yellowjackets.
Cornett paced Concord, which finished its season with a record of 38-8, with 16 points on 5 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Cornett also collected five assists. Roark followed with 13 points and five rebounds, while Cornelison had 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.