Junction City upended by Murfreesboro at regional tournament

MENA – For the second straight year, Junction City’s bid for a regional title came to an end in the semifinals.

Deon James had a huge night with 35 points, but it wasn’t enough, as Junction City fell to Murfreesboro 74-70 in overtime in the semifinals of the 2A South Regional Tournament on Friday night.

The Dragons (18-8), the 8-2A’s No. 2 seed, will face a familiar foe in conference rival Woodlawn in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m. today.

The Rattlers (21-7), the 7-2A’s No. 1 seed, will take on 8-2A district tournament champion Fordyce for the regional title on Saturday night.

For a time, it looked like the Dragons were going to move on.

A three-point play by James gave the Dragons a 63-57 lead with just over 90 seconds to play in the game, but the Rattlers went on a 7-0 run to take the lead.

On Junction City’s final possession, James got fouled on a putback attempt with 3.7 seconds left.

James split the pair of free throws to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, the Rattlers went on an 8-2 run to take a 72-66 lead, but the Dragons rallied.

Lamontra Hankton split a pair of free throws, and after the Dragons’ pressure defense forced a turnover, Taylen Owens drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to pull the Dragons within 72-70.

After a pair of missed free throws by Murfreesboro, Junction City had an opportunity to either tie or take the lead, but an offensive foul coupled with a pair of free throws by the Rattlers sealed the victory.

Just hours after the Dragons couldn’t hold on to a lead late in regulation play, Woodlawn suffered a similar fate.

The Bears led Fordyce 58-53 with just over 90 seconds to play only to see the Redbugs close the game on a 6-0 run to win 59-58 to move on.

Junction City and Woodlawn split their conference games in the regular season with each winning at home.

Pechone Larry had 7 points, while Dominique Grimes, Owens, Hankton and Cedric Jackson all had 6 points for the Dragons.

Demarion Henry rounded out Junction City’s scoring with 4 points.

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