BY JOE B. COATES
The Hazlehurst Indians are still alive in the MHSAA state 3A basketball tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson after Tuesday night’s 67-61 win over Cleveland East Side.Hazlehurst trailed 18-13 af-ter the ?rst quarter. Both teams battled the bright lights in the Big House more than each other, committing turnovers and missing high-percentage shots before settling in late in the frame.
East Side took their biggest lead of the game at 22-16 early in the second period. With 30 seconds left in the half, the Indians trailed 28-24 when Fred Fuller hit a lay up in traf?c to cut it to 28-26.
A basket by East Side put the Trojans ahead by four again shortly before the half.Gray then hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 30-29 with seconds remaining in the half. After trading free throws, the Trojans took a 31-30 lead into intermission.
The Indians got three lay ups to start the second half, one each by Gray, Eric Walker and Torey Quinn to lead 36-33 with 6:20 left in the period. Hazlehurst then ran into trouble. East Side tied the game at 36 after Indians missed shots on three consecutive trips.
The Indians regained the lead after a bucket by Justin Durr with 4:50 left in the quarter. A big boost for the Indians came when 6’10” Johnny O’Bryant picked up his fourth foul for the Trojans late in the third quarter, sending the shot-blocker to the bench.
After three quarters, the Indians led 46-42.
The Trojans eventually caught the Indians midway through the ?nal period, tying the game at 47 on a three pointer by Laquaivious Cotton and a free throw by O’Bryant. Cotton then hit another three and East Side converted a three-point play to lead 55-49 with 4:57 to play.
On the next series, the Indians stepped up the pressure on defense. Fuller stole a pass and hit Gray for a lay up. Durr hit a free throw and scored another basket seconds later after a steal to cut the lead to 55-54 at 3:45 left in the game.
The Indians took the lead for good on a Fuller lay up with 2:30 left. The quick guard shot through the defense after a Trojan miss and put the Indians up 56-55.
Hazlehurst added two more on a Fuller put-back of his own miss to lead 60-55 on the next possession.
When O’Bryant fouled out with just under two minutes left, the Indians could begin to taste the victory. The smaller, quicker Indian guards hit six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Hazlehurst was led by Gray with 24 points. Justin Durr hit for 16 and Fuller, 11.
Quinn picked up 11 rebounds, and Fuller had 8 assists.
Hazlehurst hit 19 out of 32 free throw attempts.
The Indians will play Raymond on Monday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m.