HASKELL -- The Harmony Grove Cardinals (15-4 6-3) gave up 21 points on turnovers in their 53-47 loss to Mayflower (11-3 8-1) on Friday night at the Daniel Henley Fieldhouse. After falling to the Eagles earlier in the season, 54-52, the Cardinals hoped for revenge, but the athleticism and guard play of Mayflower was too much in the loss.
“That (turnovers) was the difference in the game,” Head Coach Dexter Hendrix said. “We could have done a lot of things better defensively and offensively, but at the end of the game the turnovers separated us from them. They got a lead and stretched it out because of the turnovers.”
Harmony Grove coughed the ball up 16 times in the game with nine coming via the steal. Point guard J.P. Perry led Mayflower with five steals with Justin Bailey adding four. The two guards scored on all nine steals in the win.
“Their point guard (Perry) is very athletic with extremely quick hands and just a good defender,” Hendrix said.
Both teams began the night with much intensity on both ends of the floor. Mayflower took and early 4-0 lead in the first quarter before senior Cardinal Hayden Burchfield put Harmony Grove on the board with a short bucket.
After going up 8-2 on a lay in by Penny, the Eagles began to taper off while the Cardinals came clawing back. Down six, the Cardinals put together a 9-0 run to take an 11-8 lead after a big bucket from sophomore Jake Scoggins. Hayden Long stalled the slight run with a bucket of his own, leaving Harmony Grove up just one, 11-10, still in the first.
Harmony Grove finished the opening frame with a 13-10 lead, but held the advantage for a short time as sharpshooter Drew Duncan drained a long 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the second quarter to tie the game at 13-13.
Luckily for Harmony Grove, junior Drake Wilks matched Duncan with a long ball of his own to put the Cardinals back out in front still with seven minutes to play in the half. The Cardinals took a 21-15 lead a few moments later, but the momentum began to shift once again as Mayflower started to heat up.
Duncan cut the Cardinals’ lead to 26-24 with another big 3-pointer with 53 seconds left until halftime. Junior Cardinal Chuck McCormick answered with a big bucket in the final seconds to give the Cardinals minimal breathing room, a 28-24 lead heading into the break.
Harmony Grove shot great in the first half, sinking 59 percent (10-17) of its shots from the field. Wilks led with eight points, followed by Burchfield with seven at the half. Perry put up big numbers for the Eagles in the first half as well, leading with 12 points and three steals.
Burchfield’s success around the basket continued in the second half as he put up the Cardinals’ first four points of the third quarter to keep his team in front, 32-27. But then the turnovers began to haunt Harmony Grove just like they had in the first meeting between these two.
Down 32-27, Mayflower’s Bailey stole the ball from Wilks and returned it for a monster slam, sending the visiting crowd into a frenzy while hushing Harmony Grove’s side and forcing Hendrix to burn a timeout. On the very next possession, Bailey stole the ball once again and deposited the rock for two more, pulling the Eagles within one, 32-31, with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
McCormick gave the Cardinals something to cheer about momentarily, hitting a 3-pointer to lead by four. But Bailey was not finished. After the long ball, Bailey stole the ball once again and added another easy lay in to pull Mayflower within two, 35-33, with 2:38 showing on the clock.
With the Cardinals struggling to get across center court, Mayflower was rolling. After a missed attempt from Scoggins, Duncan moved inside the 3-point line for the first time, tying the contest at 35-35. Perry tied the game once again, this time after Wilks’ floater put Harmony Grove in front 37-35. With under a minute left in the quarter, Perry stole the ball away from Wilks again and scored, giving the Eagles their second lead of the game, 41-37, after three quarters.
With Mayflower up 44-40 in the fourth, Burchfield pulled Harmony Grove within one following an and-1 jam. Long moved Mayflower out to a 46-43 lead seconds later with a long field goal.
Harmony Grove continued to fight hard, but the turnovers kept coming and Mayflower continued to capitalize. With 2:31 left in the game, Duncan drained another 3-pointer to put the Eagles in front 51-45 and all but seal the deal for his team.
Harmony Grove lost for just the second time at home this season.
Harmony Grove shot an impressive 50 percent (16-32) from the field in the game, but could not overcome the points off turnovers by Mayflower.
Burchfield led with 15, followed by McCormick with 13 and Wilks with 10 in the loss.
“We talked to Hayden the last couple of days about how he has to be aggressive and how we have to get the ball to him,” Hendrix said. “I thought we did a great job of playing inside-out basketball. That is where we are at our best and Hayden did a great job of playing off of double teams and finding his open teammates and spreading the floor. I am very pleased with that part, but you go back to those turnovers and when we couldn’t get into our offence. That’s what really separated the game.”
Perry led all scorers with 24 points with Bailey following with 12. Duncan added 11 going 3-6 from long range.
Harmony Grove will host Fountain Lake on Tuesday, a team they beat earlier in the year.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Hendrix said. “Fountain Lake is a very tough team and very well-coached. They are fighting for their season just like we are fighting for ours right now. We have to learn from this game tonight and in the next couple of days in practice and then put it behind us.”
Leading scorer Mitch Scoggins returned from an ankle injury on Friday but was not 100 percent, finishing with three points and three rebounds.