Episcopal Edges Charleston For 3A Crown

By Grant Tolley Times Record • gtolley@swtimes.com

HOT SPRINGS — Charleston’s Ty Storey summed it up as "the worst feeling in the world."

The Tigers had hoped to add a 3A state championship in basketball to the school’s state title in football this year, but fell just short as Episcopal Collegiate edged Charleston 62-56 on Saturday at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

It was only the second loss for Charleston (31-6) with its full roster of players out from the 15-0 football team. It was Episcopal’s first title after finishing second last year. Episcopal (29-3) knocked Charleston out in the quarterfinals last year and Charleston had knocked Episcopal out in 2012.

In an evenly matched game, Charleston’s leading scorer, Matthew Ward, picked up his fourth and fifth fouls early in the fourth quarter and had to watch the final five minutes from the bench. Ward scored 20 points and had nine rebounds, both leading the team.

"I don’t see how (Ward) got the fourth foul because he wasn’t even in the lane when they called it," Charleston coach B.J. Ross said. "On the fifth, I saw their guy moving and falling but the ref called it a charge so I guess it’s a charge. That’s just the way it goes sometimes."

Charleston got a 3-pointer from Chance Shelby that tied it at 52 with 3:43 left then Andrew Smith scored inside on a bucket that cut Episcopal’s lead to 58-56 with 1:07 left. Episcopal hit free throws and came up with a steal to ice the game.

"I thought we did a good job of pulling together with Matthew out and we still had a chance to win the game," Ross said. "But its tough to win when your bell cow is over there sitting beside you on the bench."

Ty Storey had his biggest game of the season, scoring 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Smith picked up three quick fouls, only played 11 minutes and scored two late buckets.

"Our game plan was to pound it inside with Ty, Matthew and Andrew and try to be physical and wear them out," Ross said. "I felt like we did a pretty good job of that and getting the game played like we wanted it to be played. We put ourselves in position to win."

Episcopal jumped to a quick 8-1 lead and Charleston was rattled early. But the Tigers settled down and Storey started scoring inside. Charleston went on a run that ended with a 3-pointer from Brandon Fenner that put the Tigers up 28-20 in the second quarter, but Collegiate sliced it to 31-29 by the break.

"People had us and Charleston as the two best teams in the state all year and I’m glad it came down to us and them in the state finals," Episcopal coach Michah Marsh said. "I’d like to think if we played 10 times we’d come out percentage points ahead, but Charleston is a great basketball team, too."

Marsh agreed the charge called on Ward to foul him out was the turning point of the game.

"I though our defensive player made a good play to get in position and got rewarded for it," Marsh said. "We certainly knew it was going to be tough for them to win with their best player out, but they kept it close."

Most of both teams should be returning next year with a chance to be at the top of 3A again.

"I thought we were the two best teams in 3A all year and maybe we will see them again next year," Ross said. "We are two different teams but we match up pretty well with each other."

It was most likely the last basketball game for Storey. Storey missed all of last year with an ACL injury and plans to graduate early and be at the University of Arkansas for spring football drills in 2015.

"Ty had his best game as a Tiger," Ross said. "You look at him in basketball and you would never know he is the No. 1-ranked recruit in football as a quarterback. He is like an old plow horse for us. He just works hard and does everything we need him to do. He’ll be diving for loose balls in practice because that’s just the way he is."

Arkansas Activities Association State Championships at Summit Arena, Hot Springs

3A Boys Championship

Episcopal 62, Charleston 56

Charleston 15 16 12 13 — 56

Episcopal 15 14 16 17 — 62

Charleston (31-6): Matthew Ward 20, Ty Storey 18, Brandon Fenner 6, Chance Shelby 5, Andrew Smith 4, Taylor King 3.

Episcopal (29-3): Martin 21, Freeman 17, Robinson 10, J.Gooseberry 10, C. Gooseberry 2, Pollock 2.