The Sulphur Springs Wildcats didn't play like a team winless in district competition.
The Wildcats took Texas High to the limit here Wednesday. The Tigers staged a fourth quarter rally to leave town with a 56-49 win.
The game had an early tipoff with the tilt played at 5 p.m. instead of the traditional 7:30 p.m. after the game was postponed a day by snow and ice.
The teams were warmer than the weather, scoring early and often in the see-saw game which was not decided until the final period.
Andra Smith and Isaiah Lacy had 11 points each for top scoring honors for Sulphur Springs.
Darian Kidd had 16 and Kevin Paxton tossed in 14 for the visitors, each player popping a 3-pointer.
After a close first half, the Wildcats clawed back to tie the game at 40-all late in the third period. The fourth frame began with Texas High clinging to a 43-40 lead.
Sulphur Springs kept the pressure on and soon tied the game. A Derick Ingram pass found Connor Cooper open for a bucket. Cooper was fouled in the act of shooting and sank the following free throw on the traditional three-point play which deadlocked the game at 43-all.
Daryon Grant got free for a fast break bucket to put Texas High ahead 45-43 with 6:22 left on the game clock. But Sulphur Springs responded with two free throws by Lacy to lock the score at 45-all with 5:59 remaining. Sulphur Springs then went cold over the next three minutes while Texas High popped the net on 3-pointers by Kidd and Chris Hart. The Wildcats trailed 51-45 with 3:44 to play. Darian Dial scored for the Wildcats, but Texas High countered with a three-point play by Kidd. Late free throws by Paxton sealed the deal and the Tigers hung on for the 56-49 win.
The Wildcats missed five free throws in the last half of the final period and for the night hit just 5 of 12.
"We had a good effort. Overall I would say we played well, but we did not close," said Jeremy Josey, Sulphur Springs head boys basketball coach. "We did not do the little things and that gave Texas High chances to score. I don't know if we get nervous about the pressure of the fourth quarter... but this has happened to us before. It's a process, we are learning to win. We practice these situations, hopefully a game will go our way. We are tired of moral victories, we want to win."
The Wildcats fell to 0-2 in district play with the loss, Texas High is 11-8, 2-0.
"We had a good team game. We had some people step up and play well," Josey said. "We got the momentum and then let Texas High back in the game. Texas High has more size than we do. We were shooting a lot of jump shots. We have played two of the top three teams in district. Just because we are 0-2 does not mean we are out of it, we have lots of games left."
In the early going, it was anybody's ball game with the teams scoring in bunches.
The Wildcats got the lead early when Connor Cooper popped in a jumper and Lacy drove the goal for a layup. Texas High came back to go ahead 10-4 with points from Kidd and Success Blevens. Smith then scored from the outside. Lacy pulled in the defense and tallied a bucket with a nice stop and pop move from 8-feet out. Texas High got a Paxton bucket in the paint and a 3-pointer. The first quarter ended with Texas High up, 19-12.
In the second period, the Wildcats went on a 17-11 scoring burst. Lacy scored on a drive, Austin Buck canned an open shot from the wing. Reid Burns came off the pines to connected on a 3-pointer. Blevins hit a 3-pointer for the Tigers, but the half ended on a positive note for Sulphur Springs with Lacy canning a 3-point missile off the glass. The Tigers were up 30-29 at the intermission. But the Wildcats fell like they were right in the game which was a battle with neither team able to pull away.
In the third period, the Wildcats dialed long distance to score with Cooper hitting a 3-pointer and then Buck connected for two treys in a span of less than a minute. The game was tied at 38-all with five minutes left in the third period. The teams traded hoops with Texas High getting a late 3-pointer from Blevins to ease ahead 43-40 as action moved to the final frame.
In the fourth period the game was tied at 45-all, but the Tigers outscored the home team 11-4 down the stretch to notch the 56-49 victory.
The Wildcats trek to Hallsville Friday for another key district contest.
Scoring box T. High 56, Sulphur Springs 49
Texas High 19 11 13 13 -56
Sulphur Springs 12 17 11 9 -49
Sulphur Springs - Andra Smith 11, Isaiah Lacy 11, Darian Dial 2, Reid Burns 5, Derick Ingram 2, Connor Cooper 8, Austin Buck 8, Cain Cody 2.
Texas High- Daryon Grant 8, Jamal Ray 2, Darian Kidd 16, Chris Hart 5, Kevin Paxton 14, Jason Smith 2, Success Blevins 9.
Next up - Sulphur Springs at Hallsville, Friday, 9th, JV, V
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