Sports: Martins Mill squeezes Grapeland

Feb. 28—Martins Mill appeared headed for a to the wire battle with Grapeland, when suddenly the Mustangs closed the door on the Sandies' scoring and rallied to a 36-25 win.

Down 16-9 in the second quarter, Martins Mill pulled even at halftime. After Grapeland scored the first bucket of the second half, the Mustangs scored on Sawyer Mills' three-point shot to take a 19-18 lead. They stretched the lead to 33-18 before the Sandies scored again.

"This is the bottom line — defense travels," Coach Greg Jenkins said. "You can be in every ballgame if you play good defense and protect the paint."

Jenkins said his team was just "off" in the early going.

"We couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. We got a lot of good looks, but they just wouldn't go in," Jenkins said.

Jak Kinder started the game with the first two buckets. After one period the Mustangs led 6-4.

In the second quarter, Laden Whitt's three-point shot see-sawed Grapeland into the lead. Kinder answered to send the Mustangs to an 8-7 edge.

The Mustangs opened a little daylight in the third, when Moore's three-point shot gave them a 22-18 edge. Jak Kinder free throws opened the advantage to 24-16. After thee quarters, the Mustangs led 25-18.

The teams went into the fourth period with both teams having opportunities before Kinder opened the scoring with a three-point shot that gave Martinns Mill its first double digit lead, 28-18.

Kinder added another from outside the ark, sending the Mustangs into a comfortable 31-18 lead.

"We had a tough time tonight, but a lot of the credit goes to Grapeland," Jenkins said. "They won 27 games this year. We knew this was going to be a war."

With the win, Martins Mill is 32-4, with a regional semifinal match with Beckville 6p.m., Friday, in Athens.

"They're a familiar foe," Jenkins said. "This will be the fourth time we played them in the past two years and we've won all three of them, but they're coming for us Friday. We're excited."

The Bearcats are 26-7. Martins Mill beat them 64-38 in December. They beat San Augustine 66-53 on Tuesday.