Outscored 20-8 in the fourth quarter, the Afton Eagles suffered a 49-35 loss to the Diamond, Mo., Wildcats in the Boys’ Blue championship game Saturday evening in the 65th annual Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament in the NEO Fieldhouse.
With the victory, coach Eddie Jones’ Wildcats, who entered the tournament with just one win on the season, captured their first NEO tournament bracket championship since 2002.
Coach David Markes’ Afton Eagles jumped out to a 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Five points by Sam Shepard and four by Matt Wisdom, along with a solo free throw by Brandon Jones, accounted for the Eagles lead.
Four straight points by Jones and a layup by Bradley Markes increased the Afton lead to 16-5 in the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Back-to-back 3-point field goals by Kyle Heman and a putback from Jared Huffman rallied the Wildcats to a 16-13 deficit with 2:46 until halftime.
After a field goal by Afton’s Dusty Henry, the Wildcats received a layup by Corey Allen and a solo free throw by Jeff Kelley to trail 18-16 at halftime.
Four free throws by Jones and a layup by Henry allowed Afton to maintain a 25-18 margin with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
Heman canned two straight 3-pointers and Jared Huffman sank two free throws and one by Kelley forged a 27-27 tie for Diamond entering the fourth quarter.
Another 3-pointer by Scott Corn and field goals by Heman and Huffman boosted the Wildcats to a 36-33 margin with 5:37 remaining in the game.
Two free throws by Chance Hardy and one by Justin Jinks along with field goals by Jinks, Allen and Huffman increased the Diamond lead to 46-33 with 1:18 showing on the clock.
Following a field goal by Afton’s Shepard, the Wildcats received two free throws by Chance Hardy and one by Jake Tuter to close out the scoring in the final minute.
Jones scored 13 points to lead the Eagles along with Shepard 9, Henry 5, Wisdom 4, Markes 2, Victor 2.
Huffman paced the Wildcats with 11 points while Heman added 10.