Cairo grabbed pivotal rebounds, made cross-court passes to run out the clock and went 5-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 25 seconds Friday at Kendrick to advance to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs with a 59-53 victory over the Cherokees.
The Syrupmakers (16-9) scored seven of the first 10 points of the game and set the pace with a 22-10 lead after the first quarter. The Kendrick defense settled in during the second, and the Cherokees (15-10) went to halftime trailing 29-21.
Kendrick’s Cameron Baker scored six points in an 8-0 run in the third period, but Cairo held onto a 41-37 advantage heading into the fourth. Kendrick’s Dwayne Belfield tied the game 42-42 just under two minutes intothe final quarter and Timothy Dixon, Baker, Tywhan Myrick and Christopher Whitaker scored to put Kendrick ahead or at least tied over the next five minutes before Cairo took advantage of its trips to the free-throw line toretake control.
Cairo advances to play the winner of Saturday’s South Atlanta-Thomson gameon Wednesday.