Hawks outlast scrappy Cardinals
By Ronnie Hughes
BRIDGE CITY —A scrappy Bridge City Cardinals team showed up Friday night against the Hardin Jefferson Hawks. They’d pressure the Hawks right to the end only to fall, 58-50, in a District 24-4A battle at Cardinal Gym.
The Cardinals remain in the thick of the playoff race for the final two spots as they stand 4-5 in district with three games left.
Senior Hawk Leland Rogers, led all scorers with 17 points on the night.
After an early 7-0 start for the Hawks they’d lose momentum after several turnovers led to five Cardinal points including a Ryan Mirabella three-point shot. The Cardinals spread the ball around nicely to keep the Hawk defense honest and the game close. After a Rogers three point shot with second left in the first quarter the Cardinals trailed just, 16-12. Rogers notched 7 points in the first quarter.
Bridge City would lose some momentum to start the second quarter with Hardin Jefferson sparking an 11-0 run after Rogers made an and-one bucket followed by a three- point shot from the top of the key.
The Hawks led, 28-16before miscues again would haunt them and allow the Cardinals to narrow the lead. Mirabella and Graydon Glover gave the Cards’ a jolt with back-to-back to-back three pointers that got the crowd on their feet and cut the Hawk lead to 30-27. The 10-2 run would be the Cardinals biggest run of the night and was just enough to keep it close at halftime. Zane Zbranek hit a three right before the half to give the Hawks a slight edge up, 33-27. Mirabella led all Cardinals on the night with 14 points including 4 of 5 shooting from the three point line.
The Hawks appeared to found an answer to the Cardinal press by opening up with seven quick points in the second half to seemingly be in control, 39-27. However, the Cardinals again would frustrate the Hawks with stellar defense and controlling the boards. Glover ended a Cardinal drought that went back to the two minute mark in the second quarter when he took a quick pass and pulled up for a jumper. Mirabella followed suit with his third three pointer of the night to pull within six points. The Hawks would again answer and quickly extend the lead to 14 points at the end of the third. They’d hold the Cardinals to just 7 third quarter points. Glover knocked in 10 points on the night.
Sophomore Chason Burch, went to work in the fourth for the Cardinals hitting an early three point shot that would start quickly chipping away at the Hawks lead. The Hawks continued to struggle against the BC pressure coughing up six turnovers in the final quarter as they let the lead start to trickle away. Burch, who was scoreless the first three quarters of the game, dropped 10 points in the fourth including a three that narrowed the lead to 56-50 with under 2 minutes remaining in the game. The Cardinals though, were forced to foul and the Hawks missed some crucial free-throws, but BC was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Rogers sealed the game for Hardin Jefferson making two final free-throws with under twenty seconds left. The Cardinals outscored the Hawks 16-10 in the final quarter. Jamison Roberts chipped in 15 points for the Hawks while the bench piled on 15 points.
The Hawks (19-6,8-1) will put their four game win streak on the line when they host the LC-M Bears squad on Tuesday. The Cardinals have nothing to hang their heads about as they were able to hang with a district favorite. They will travel across town to play against West Orange-Stark, a team that is in a must-win situation.