Southwest comeback sinks Pierce City
Trailing Pierce City by double digits in the third quarter and with three starters in foul trouble, Southwest coach Jess Ross had some decisions to make.
"I told them just to play, and play smart," said Ross. "Even with the fouls, we had to have those guys on the floor."
Southwest defied all coaching philosophy and logic and made an improbable comeback in front of a deafening home crowd. Senior James Pettit torched the Eagles for 13 points in the fourth quarter, and the Trojans pulled away to the 59-50 victory.
Pettit finished with a game-high 28 points to lead the Southwest attack. Pierce City's 6'4" center Cody Fitzpatrick led the Eagles with 16.
Pierce City led 15-14 after a quarter and 25-23 at halftime before pulling away. But then Ross switched defenses and put his foul-stricken starters back on the floor as a unit. Southwest responded and pulled within 39-34 at the final break then rolled to the victory behind Pettit's late heroics.
"He's (Pettit) a stud," said Ross of his senior leader. "He is the most valuable player of the Ozark 7 Conference."
Southwest is now 14-9 overall and 4-0 in conference play after defeating McAuley 69-62 on Feb. 5. The Trojans enter the Class 3, District 12 tournament seeded sixth and will play the host Seneca Indians at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Scoring for Southwest: Pettit, 28 points; Jordan Epling and Austin Ross, 11 each; Brad Daniels, 6; Robbie Randall, 2; and Josh Cutberth, 1.
Scoring for Pierce City: Fitzpatrick, 16 points; Zach Hyde, 11; Kole Kelley and Colton Dollinger, 7 each; Colin Garner, 6; and Cedric O'Hara, 3.