Armorel nearly overcame a 15-point third period deficit and got within a point with 1:20 to go in the fourth but the Zebras nailed some huge free throws down the stretch to come away with the victory.
Lane Finley scored the first 14 points for the Tigers over a period and a half as Armorel and Black Rock battled back and forth with the lead during the first half. Finley finished with a game high 35 points for the Tigers.
"Honestly, he could have had more," said first year Tiger head coach Justin Ward. "We just made things so hard on ourselves. I truly think he could have had 40 or 50. That's not a joke."
Payton Lannon scored the first bucket for the Tigers other than Finley with 4:50 to go in the second period to give Armorel a 16-15 lead. Payton Brown followed with a three-pointer giving the Tigers a four-point advantage. But Black Rock finished the half on a 12-4 run and took a 27-23 lead into the break and they would never give up the lead again.
The Zebras opened up the third with a 11-0 run. Caleb McKenzie hit back-to-back jumpers including a three pointer for Black Rock as the Zebras opened up a 38-23 with 3:30 left in the third.
"We just weren't getting shots to fall and we were letting them (Black Rock) get to loose balls and second shots," said Ward.
Ashton Kennedy ended the shooting drought for the Tigers with a basket with just under three minutes to play in the third cutting the Zebra lead to 12 at 38-26. Kennedy cut the lead to under double-digits later in the period with a three pointer at the 1:00 make to cut the Zebra lead to 41-33.
The Tigers clawed their way back in the fourth and nearly completed the comeback. Trailing by seven with 2:12 left in the game, Armorel scored six in a row over the next one minute and eight seconds. Finely's bucket with 1:20 shaved the Zebra lead to 52-51 but Matt Wilkins broke free on the ensuing inbounds play and scored on a lay up to give Black Rock a 54-51 lead. Wilkins basket was one of just two field goals for the Zebras in the fourth period. Black Rock relied on the free throw line for their points and they made it count. The Zebras hit 12 of 14 attempts in the final period including five of six in the final 45 seconds to seal the deal.
"We didn't anything different when we made our comeback," said Ward. "We just finally got some shots to go down and we got a little confidence and momentum. It just wasn't enough."
For the game, Finley led all scorers with 35 and Brown chipped in 10 for the Tigers.
Wilkins led the Zebras with 21 and McKenzie and Derek Nunnally each had 14 points a piece.
The loss drops the Tigers to 3-6 in the 1A-3 conference with a road game at Ridgefield Christian coming up next Tuesday.
Black Rock 22
The Armorel Lady Tigers cruised past visiting Black Rock Thursday night in a 57-22 win over the Lady Zebras.
After leading 13-7 after the first period, the Lady Tigers outscored the Zebras 22-4 in the second period taking a 35-11 lead into the break and never looked back. Armorel broke the game open thanks to three Madison Carr steals in four Black Rock possessions that led to easy points on the other end.
Armorel (6-17, 3-5 1A-3) expanded their lead to 48-19 to begin the fourth and invoked the "Mercy Clock" early in the period.
For the game, Carr led all scores with 22 points and six steals. Shelbie Collard added 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Tia Sellers chipped in six points and eight rebounds and Amanda Skelton dished out six assists.
Christian Evans led Black Rock with eight points.
BOYS JUNIOR HIGH
Black Rock 17
The Armorel junior boys had no trouble the Black Rock in a 56-17 win Thursday night.
Ahead 13-7 after one period, the Tigers blanked the Zebras in the second outscoring them, 11-0 and led 24-7 heading into the break. The Tigers led 43-14 after three and cruised to the victory in the fourth.
Andrew Lannon led the Tigers with 15, Seth Wyatt added 10 and Joseph Harper and Nash Winters each added nine points a piece.
JUNIOR HIGH GIRLS
Black Rock 19
The Armorel Junior Lady Tigers moved over the .500 mark in league play with a 31-19 win over Black Rock Thursday night.
Armorel (6-17, 5-4 1A-3) led 12-3 after one period, 19-7 at halftime and 21-15 heading into the fourth.
Emily Jo Gentry led the Lady Tigers with 11 points and Whitney Wagganer added eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.