TYLER — On this Tuesday night in Tyler - Duke was the King.
Duke Hamilton, a 5-foot-6 junior point guard for Jacksonville, poured in 19 points, 14 coming in the key second half as the Indians downed Sulphur Springs 62-56 in the bi-district basketball playoffs. The crowd at Wagstaff Gym got to see a spirited game that was much close than the six point bulge at the final. The teams traded hoops all night, but Hamilton was the difference. He made 4-of-7 shots in the second half and also nailed 7-of-8 free throws.
"We could not get the defensive stops when we needed them. We played hard, our effort was very good, we had good energy. We just could not stop their quick, little point guard (Hamilton),” Sulphur Springs head basketball coach Braughn Curtis said.
The Indians also excelled at the free throw line with the game hanging in the balance. In the second half, Jacksonville was 13-of-17 from the charity stripe while Sulphur Springs made just two-of-seven.
Curtis added, "If we make our free throws, it is closer game. We might not win, but we could have pulled closer. But we didn't do it."
Sulphur Springs converted just 11-of-22 free throws in the game, while Jacksonville made 22-of-28 from the line.
Turnovers again hurt the Wildcats as they made 25 in the game. Several coming in clutch time late when the game was on the line.
High point for Sulphur Springs was Colton Nash with 16 points while Anthony Mills scored 13 for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats fell behind early in the game, but scratched back to be within a point, 28-27 at the half time break.
The third period was a wild frenzy with the two evenly-matched teams slugging it out. Joey Davis popped a 3-pointer to give Sulphur Springs their first lead at 30-28 with 7:01 left in the period. Hamilton drove the lane for a bucket to tie the game. The Wildcats got a resounding answer to the bucket as 6-foot-6 post man Kedrick Dial rattled the rim with a slam dunk.
The pattern continued with Hamilton scoring on short range jumpers for Jacksonville and Dial asserting his dominance in the lane. Hamilton converted a three-point play, making a free shot after getting hacked in the act of scoring as the Tribe tried to pull ahead up 42-35. The Hamilton-inspired 10-2 scoring burst forced Sulphur Springs to call a time out with two minutes to go in the third period.
Sulphur Springs closed out the third period with a 7-0 flurry of points to tie the game at 42-all. Scoring in the stretch came by Nash, Mills and Davis. Davis' bucket which seem to excite the Wildcats as the fourth period began.
Tied at 42-all, the final period belonged to Jacksonville by a 20-14 margin. The Indians took advantage of some Sulphur Springs miscues down the stretch and got key buckets from Justin Davis and Hamilton. The Indians held a slim 57-56 lead with a 1:06 left.
Sulphur Springs would not score again.
The Tribe closed out the game with free throws by Davis and Hamilton and an inside bucket from Chris Williams.
Jacksonville won by the six-point final of 62-56.
In the first half, Jacksonville found their shooting touch early with points coming from Hamilton, Traderon Moreland and Kedrick Hatton as they jumped ahead, 12-6.
Sulphur Springs got four first-quarter rebounds from Nash ashe scored four points in the paint to keep the Wildcats close.
Bryant (Day Day) Jackson converted a three-point play, but Hamilton returned the favor against the Wildcats.
The first period ended with the Tribe holding a 16-12 advantage.
Sulphur Springs outscored the Indians 15-14 in the second stanza. Jonathan Lee joined the scoring parade while Mills pumped penetrated and scored seven points on short range shots and a pull up jumper off a jump stop move in the paint.
The Indians held a 28-27 lead at intermission.
In the second half, Sulphur Springs could not get a lead or get comfortable with the style of play the Indians used.
At key times Jacksonville would either get a driving bucket from Hamilton or break free for a basket on the baseline.
The Indians took the win, 62-56 and will advance in the playoffs.
The basketball season ends for Sulphur Springs with a 13-16 mark and a third place finish in the 13-4A race.
“We need to play consistently for fourth quarters and not give up easy buckets. We did not make Jacksonville earn all their points,” Curtis said. “We could not stop them. We had trouble staying with their post players. They made plays and shots in transition that hurt us.”
The coach added, “Just making the playoffs was big. I am not sure if any of our guys had even been to a playoff game, much less played in one. These guys are setting the tone for guys coming up. We're learning what it is like to be in playoff games. This is a good thing for our program to be here and feel the playoff atmosphere.”
Sulphur Springs 12-15-15-14-56
Sulphur Springs - Bryant Jackson 9, Anthony Mills 13, Alvin Frazier 3, Rashad Hall 1, Joey Davis 3, Colton Nash 16, Kedrick Dial 6, Jonathan Lee 5.
Jacksonville- Traderon Moreland 11, Duke Hamilton 19, Ryan Black 2, Kendrick Hatton 10, Justin Davis 14, Chris Williams 6.
Second game score- Longview 61, Lindale 41. Lobos play Waco Midway, TBA
Jacksonville advances to meet the winner of the Corsicana/Lancaster game, TBA.
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