Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High senior guard Cameron Welch dribbles to the basket during first-quarter action.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High senior guard Cameron Welch dribbles to the basket during first-quarter action.

The Macon County High School boys basketball team was outscored by a 10-0 margin over the final five minutes on Friday evening, suffering a 53-43 loss to visiting York Institute at Nera White Gymnasium.

"We just never made a shot," Tiger head coach Jason Welch said. "We were trying to find Trent (Cook) shots, Cameron (Welch) shots, Kelton (Ballou) a layup … it never happened."

The district-leading Dragons lead by as much as 8 points on two different occasions in the third quarter, but Ballou ignited a rally.

An offensive rebound by Braydee Brooks led to Ballou's layin, and then, Macon County's senior point guard blocked a shot by York Institute (17-4 overall, 10-2 in District 8-AA) on the other end of the court before sinking a 3-pointer from the right corner.

Then, Ballou's driving layin with 13 seconds left in the period pulled his squad to within a point (39-38).

"At that point, Clay (West) has fouls, and Trent has fouls," Jason Welch said. "They are sitting out, and we make a move. We gritted our teeth, quit giving layups and moved the ball. Kelton made some plays when he was open.

"That's what's frustrating. When we got it to 43-43, we didn't make the next pass. We didn't hit the gap. We didn't make plays."

The Dragons extended the lead back to 5 points before Ballou found sophomore Connor Johnson open for a 3-pointer. Then, junior teammate Lake Reid maneuvered in the lane for a basket, knotting the contest at 43 with 5:22 remaining.

However, the Tigers (9-17, 5-7) didn't score again.

"They made all the right plays," Jason Welch said. "We wanted to get Trent shots. Cameron took the ball to the basket. We got Kelton a shot. Trent had a couple of turnovers he usually doesn't have.

"It was tough. It was tied at 43, and they went 10-0. We have to make the plays to win it. We have to continue to work on it."

Cook picked up his fourth foul with 4:51 remaining, and he eventually fouled out.

Roger Meadows had his 10-footer roll in with 3:38 remaining to place York Institute in front to stay.

Ballou came up with a steal approximately 90 seconds later but couldn't convert on the transition opportunity, keeping the Dragons in front by two.

Noah Smith made two free throws at the 1:52 mark, and then, Case Moody sank 5 of 6 free throws over the final 27 seconds to seal the win.

"For us, we have to take away little mistakes," Jason Welch said. "We foul a shooter at the buzzer in the third quarter who's not going to make a shot. Then, we make a steal and can't hit the layup.

"We'll work on it. It's two more regular-season games. Then, you play for keeps."

The contest remained close early on.

Macon County led 14-9 after freshman Braydee Brooks converted on a transition layin and Cook provided a 3-point play over the first 40 seconds of the second stanza.

Cook scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second period, making a 3-pointer with 2:51 remaining in the half to give his squad its final lead at 24-23.

"They press up on you so hard (defensively)," Jason Welch said. "We spread the floor. Trent was the only guy who got it going offensively for us."

However, layins from Landrick Leffew and Smith gave York Institute a 27-24 lead at halftime.

Then, the Dragons extended the advantage early in the third quarter as Smith provided a pair of field goals during that stretch.

Smith finished with a 18 points, and Meadows provided 10.

The Tigers - who captured a 65-47 victory at York Institute on Jan. 8 - committed 16 turnovers on Friday.

Macon County was slated to play at DeKalb County on Tuesday, and the Tigers will conclude district play with a contest against visiting Upperman on Thursday.

York Institute boys 53, Macon County 43

YORK INSTITUTE (53) – Noah Smith 18, Roger Meadows 10, Landrick Leffew 8, Case Moody 7, Caleb Christianson 4, Cole Smith 4, Nicolas Smith 2.

MACON COUNTY (43) – Trent Cook 18, Kelton Ballou 7, Clay West 6, Braydee Brooks 4, Lake Reid 4, Connor Johnson 3, Cameron Welch 1.

Half: 27-24, York Institute. Three-point goals: York Institute 1 (N. Smith 1), Macon County 5 (Cook 3, Ballou 1, Johnson 1). Records: York Institute 17-4 overall, 10-2 in District 8-AA; Macon County 9-17, 5-7.