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Cardinals edge out Bears in 24-4A nailbiter

By Ronnie Hughes

Leader Correspondent

BRIDGE CITY — A crucial District 24-4A match-up between the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears and the Bridge City Cardinals gave fans all they could east on Friday night.

The close-knit affair came down to the wire with the Cardinals edging out the Bears, 43-42, to halt the Bears three-game win streak. Ryan Mirabella had is way all night dropping 23 points on the Bears including 4-5 from the three-point line.

The win pushes the Cardinals to 4-3 in 24-4A play while the Bears stand at 4-4.

Bridge City got off to a hot start with Hunter Weigreffe accounting for six points of a 10-2 opening run for the Cardinals.

The Bears struggled early in all phases of the game, missing wide open shots, struggling to get rebounds and coughed up four turnovers. Katon Brown helped spark the stagnant Bear offense with a huge rebound and put back to narrow the Cardinal lead to just six points, 14-8 at the end of the first.

The Cardinals applied more pressure in the second quarter that seemed to fluster the Bears. LC-M found no answer for Mirabella who extend the Cardinal lead to 19-10 after he hit his second three-point shot. Just moments later he’d hit his third three-point shot and accounted for nine consecutive points to end the second quarter with the Cardinals in total control, 31-18.

The Cardinals were able to take Cameron Parker out of the game with a similar double-team that Hamshire-Fannett used, but the difference being the Cards were able to take out Katon Brown’s usual explosive style of play around the basket.

The Bears didn’t go down easily as they opened the second half of play on fire. Junior Ayson Simmons hit a beautiful pull-up three-point shot from the top to ignite a 10-2 Bears run as the Cards’ slowly watched their 13-point lead evaporate. Andrew Daspit chipped in a third quarter three as well to keep the Bear rally alive as they trailed just 38-32 at the end of three quarters of play. The Bears defense was smothering the Cardinals holding them to just seven third quarter points.

It was all LC-M in the fourth quarter as they continued to chip away at the Cardinal lead. Brown, who had 11 points, would drive the lane to cut the lead to three points. Parker would finally find some daylight to get off a shot moments later. He’d nail a three-pointer from the side pocket and would fire off another huge three for the first Bear lead of the night, 41-40.

The lead would be short lived as Mirabella had an answer when he nailed a three-point shot on the next Cardinal possession to give the lead back by just two points. The final Bear hope came with seconds left on the clock and Daspit at the foul line for the two free-throw shots. He’d make the first of two, but the second shot would rim out and the Bears would fall by just a point. Daspit and Simmons finished with eight points for the Bears on the night while Dane Piper notched 10 points for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals will take their big win to West Orange-Stark on Tuesday, a team they’ve beaten once in district play already. The Bears can’t hang their head for too long, because they have the number one state-ranked team Silsbee Tigers coming to town next Friday with just four final district games left.