JAY – Mt. Abram coach Corey Guilford had some simple advice for sophomore guard Sam Simpson: Shoot the ball.

“We’ve told him, when you see guys sag off of you, you have to take that shot,” said Guilford.

Simpson took a feed at the right side of the lane from point guard Chris Smith and watch the Jay defense collapse around 6-foot-3 center Eric Richards.

All alone, Simpson popped off a jumper that caught the rim – twice – and rolled in with 18 seconds to play to lift the Roadrunners to a 43-42 triumph over the Jay Tigers at the Tiger Dome on Monday.

“I still have butterflies right now,” Simpson admitted more than 10 minutes after his team left the court. “We were patient the whole time, and we tried not to force anything. I don’t really think it was just that shot that won the game, though. It was the whole team.”

Defensively, Simpson was right on. The Roadrunners (2-2) held the Tigers (1-3) to just one successful field goal in the final quarter. The Tigers also hurt their own cause by making just seven of their 12 opportunities from the free throw line.

“The first half, we were six of seven,” said Jay coach Edwin Thompson. “That’s been our Achilles heel all season, layups and free throws.”

After Simpson’s basket, Jay had two chances to win the game. Zane Armandi curled to the right side of the key and got off a clean jumper with four seconds to play. The ball caught the rim twice, and Armandi chased down his own rebound, but his second attempt came up short, bounced off of two or three players and then out of bounds as time expired.

“We had the shot we wanted,” said Thompson. “The shot just didn’t fall.”

Jay did force Mt. Abram into Plan B in the second half as the Tigers shut down Smith, the team’s primary ball-handler.

“We had to go to the secondary ball-handler,” said Guilford. “They were very aggressive defensively and they got away with it most of the night.”

Simpson led all scorers with his 10 points and added five rebounds. Smith finished with nine points and four boards, including three critical rebounds in the fourth quarter. Nick Peruffo (eight points) hit a critical 3-pointer in the third to bring Mt. Abram back into the fold after Jay made a 6-0 run to build a 30-24 lead. Peruffo and Wyatt Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Simpson added a layup to answer.

Nick Bourassa had nine points for the Tigers, but six of those came early. Armandi also had nine for Jay.


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