On Friday, however, Kennesaw Mountain took a step in changing the trend with a 56-54 victory.
The Mustangs (7-5, 4-3 Region 4AAAAAA) edged the Indians (7-7, 3-4) after taking their final lead with just 21 seconds remaining.
“We haven’t beaten McEachern in a while,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Jesse Bonner said. “McEachern is always one of the top teams in our region, so that is good for our confidence. We have to take care of business on our home court, so that was a real big win for us.”
The last time Kennesaw Mountain had defeated McEachern was Feb. 14, 2007.
Friday night’s victory never looked certain for the Mustangs, even when the Indians trailed by two with 1.7 seconds remaining.
McEachern opened the game with a six-point run, but it didn’t take long for Kennesaw Mountain to knot the score at 9-all following a pair of free throws by Brendt Pickens. Adrian White made a pair of shots as the Mustangs took a 16-11 lead after the first quarter.
The Mustangs pushed the lead to seven before the Indians responded. Ty Clemons made a couple key plays as the Indians tied the scored at 24-all before Kennesaw Mountain’s Maceo Inman and McEachern’s Deonta Patterson exchanged baskets in the final seconds to go into the break at 26-all.
Six different Mustangs scored in the third quarter, but the play with the most impact occurred on the Indians’ end of the court. Miles Inman, one of Kennesaw Mountain’s leading scorers, fouled out midway through the period. Bonner said he lost track of how many fouls Inman had committed, and he was trying to substitute.
“(Inman) is a good shooter for us and for him to get five fouls hurt,” Bonner said. “We could have used him, but we’ll take it.”
Kennesaw Mountain led by a game-high eight points following a 3-pointer by Andrew Jimenez before the Indians fought their way back into the game. Jalil Braxton converted a three-point play, while A.J. Jones and Patterson made 3-pointers to bring the Indians within a score 43-41 at the end of three.
McEachern, which hadn’t led since early in the first quarter, went up 52-51 on a basket by Braxton. If was short-lived, however, as Ed Lott drained a 3-pointer on the Mustangs’ next possession. Freddy Brown tied the game back up 54-all, but Kennesaw Mountain drove down the court and White’s layup with 21 seconds remaining made the score final 56-54.
McEachern did attempt a late 3-pointer, but it fell short.
Pickens led Kennesaw Mountain with 15 points. Jimenez and Nigel Hayes each finished with 10.
McEachern was led by Patterson and Clemons, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. Braxton finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Bonner said he still sees work to be done, but with a winning record in region play, the Mustangs are in a pretty good place.
“We had four real good practices, and we played a solid game (Friday),” he said. “We need to clean up a few things on the board, but I thought we played an excellent game.”
McEachern 60, Kennesaw Mountain 34: Te’a Cooper finished with a triple-double of 13 points, 11 assists and 10 steals as the Lady Indians pulled to .500 for the first time this season.
Jada Lewis scored 14 points for McEachern (7-7, 3-2 Region 4AAAAAA), while Chynna Ewing had nine.
The Lady Indians held the Lady Mustangs (2-11, 0-7) to four points in both the second and third quarters. Kennesaw Mountain did not make any field goals in the second quarter.
Ariana Irby led the Lady Mustangs with nine points. Jaylah Carr and Amber Hutchin each scored eight points, and Kiara Reid had seven.