PRINCETON — In soccer, just getting to play is a major battle.
The Sulphur Springs girls soccer team tried Tuesday and had to overcome several obstacles just to get the game in.
The plan worked for the football team.
Get in the playoffs and see what happens.
The Sulphur Springs Wildcats downed Hallsville 61-58 Tuesday night to secure third place in the District 13-4A basketball race.
The win catapults the Wildcats into the playoffs against District 14-4A runner-up Jacksonville. The bi-district game will be played Tuesday, Feb. 24 at Tyler's Wagstaff Gymnasium on the campus of Tyler Junior College at 6 p.m. The game is the first half of a doubleheader with Lindale and Longview playing in the nightcap.
"We're in the playoffs now," Sulphur Springs second year head coach Braughn Curtis said with a grin. "Now anything can happen. The best part of it is that we're winning games and we haven't come anywhere close to reaching our potential."
The home win over Hallsville gives the Wildcats a 7-5 mark in district play, (12-15 overall) Sulphur Springs finished the regular season undefeated at home in district play. Hallsville will now have to meet Mount Pleasant to determine fourth place and the right to meet District 14-4A champion, No. 3-ranked Whitehouse.
The game with Hallsville was a nip-and-tuck barnburner, only decided in the final minutes. Bryant (Day Day) Jackson stepped up big time for Sulphur Springs coming off the bench for 17 points, including three second half 3-pointers. Tyrik Rollison had 12 points and a 3-pointer while Jonathan Lee added 10. Kedrick Dial had 11 rebounds while Nash added eight.
Turnovers, often a problem for the Wildcats, were held to 16. Most of the games when Sulphur Springs has less than 20 turnovers, the manage to win.
Sulphur Springs made 20-of-46 two point field goals, 43.4 percent while connecting on five-of-15 3-pointers 33 percent. The Wildcats made 6-of-21 from the free throw line, 28 percent.
Hallsville made 20-of-39 two pointers, 51 percent while making four-of-14 from long distance and connecting on 6-of-11 free throws for 54 percent.
The first half was dead even. Exactly equal in most ways. The teams were tied at 14-all at the end of the first period and deadlocked at 29 as the second period concluded.
That led to a rock 'em sock up second half. The Wildcats made their move in the third period. Sulphur Springs outscored the visiting Bobcats 16-9 in the third period.
The trend turned while Jackson hit scored on a put back in the lane, then stepped outside and ripped the net with a 3-pointer as the Wildcats went up 36-34. Nash hit one-of-two free throws and Lee got a fast break lay-up to force Hallsville to call a time out at the 2:16 mark with the Bobcats trailing 41-36.
The Wildcats kept the pressure on the Bobcats and controlled the boards. The period ended with Rollison breaking free deep and scoring on a fast break lay-up with Sulphur Springs ahead 45-40.
The fourth period began with Spencer Horn scoring in the paint while Chase Jordan came up with a steal and a score. The Bobcats were within a bucket 45-43 with less than six minutes left.
Jackson then asserted his talent hitting two 3-pointers in a two minute span as the Wildcats took a 51-45 lead.
Hallsville had a scoring spurt of their own as they went on a 7-1 burst with points by Cole Christy and Larry Nesbitt. The game was tied at 52-all when Hallsville called a time out with 3:03 left.
Nash scored on the inside and Rollison had a fastbreak lay-up. Rollison got fouled and knocked to the floor as he sank the bucket and he got up pumping his fist and exciting teammates and fans alike as he smoothly walked to the free throw line and sank the following free throw to give the Wilcats a 58-52 lead with 1:57 remaining in the contest.
Lee slipped free and tossed in a baseline bucket to allow the Sulphur Springs squad ahead 60-52 with 1:18 remaining.
The Bobcats would not go away and pulled closer with points from Horn and Christy. But the Wildcats got points late from Lee. Sulphur Springs won the game by the final of 61-58.
Sulphur Springs' next action will be Saturday at 7 p.m. against John Tyler in a warm-up game set a the University of Texas Patriot Center.
"We got a good game from Day Day, he did great. We put him in the position to flourish," Curtis said. "We did not hit our free throws so we have could pulled away late in the fourth quarter. We won, but you need to made the free throws in the big games."
Curtis said he was still amazed that the team went from 1-9 in district a year ago to the 7-5 and the third place slot in district.
"I am so proud of this group, they kept working. We finally got all together and we are healthy and now we're off to the playoffs. It's a different mentality in the playoffs, I think we have a good chance of winning," Curtis said."Every game is a must-win situation."
SCORING BOX (varsity)
Sulphur Springs 14-15-16-15--61
Hallsville- Ryan Rawson 2, Chase Jordan 6, Sheldon Glezen 8, Larry Nesbitt 11, Jared Simpson 2, Cole Christy 14, Spencer Horn 15.
Sulphur Springs- Bryant (Day Day) Jackson 17, Tyrik Rollison 12, Alvin Frazier 6, Rashad Hall 2, Joey Davis 4, Colton Nash 5, Kedrick Dial 5, Jonathan Lee 10.
SCORING BOX (JV)
Hallsville 75, Sulphur Springs 51
Sulphur Springs - Bubba Wright 8, Jaquvian Willis 5, Kwame Goodson 7, Jacobs 8, George Green 14, Jordan Lee 9.
SCORING BOX (9th)
Hallsville 64, Sulphur Springs 47
Sulphur Springs - Cody Clayton 13, Justin Owens 2, Tevin Norris 14, Calize Frazier 6, Jaylon Perry 8, Erick Simmons 4.
Next up- Sulphur Springs varsity vs. John Tyler - Saturday, 7 p.m. warm-up game at UT-Tyler Patriot Center.
Bi-district playoffs - Sulphur Springs Wildcats (home team) vs. Jacksonville Indians, TJC Wagstaff Gymnasium, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m.
The second annual Sulphur Springs softball tournament begins Thursday with 20 teams in four divisions. Games will be played at Sulphur Springs High School and three fields at Coleman Park. Thursday games at SSHS include: 10 a.m., Sulphur Springs vs. Mabank; noon, Royse City vs. Frisco Wakeland; 2 p.m. Frisco Liberty vs. Wills Point; 4 p.m., Wills Point vs. Rockwall-Heath; 6 p.m., Sulphur Springs vs. Rockwall-Heath; 7:30 p.m., Tatum vs. Sulphur Springs (gold).
The second annual Sulphur Springs softball tournament begins Thursday with 20 teams in four divisions.
Games will be played at Sulphur Springs High School and three fields at Coleman Park. Thursday games at SSHS include: 10 a.m., Sulphur Springs vs. Mabank; noon, Royse City vs. Frisco Wakeland; 2 p.m. Frisco Liberty vs. Wills Point; 4 p.m., Wills Point vs. Rockwall-Heath; 6 p.m., Sulphur Springs vs. Rockwall-Heath; 7:30 p.m., Tatum vs. Sulphur Springs (gold).