|Wildcats lose opening game of Mount Pleasant Tiger Classic|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Dec. 29, 2005 - MOUNT PLEASANT - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats opened up the first round of the Mount Pleasant Tiger Classic with a disappointing loss to the Texarkana Arkansas High Razorbacks 59-49 Thursday afternoon.
"At one point in time, it was a two-point game at 28-26, and we fought back throughout the game after being down early," said first year SSHS coach Jeff Carroll. "Kids like Drew Biggerstaff continue to fight and they keep playing hard, and Jose Vargas played hard."
The Wildcats (3-13) received 12 points and nine rebounds from junior Chris Young, while senior Jay Pope added 11 points, four rebounds, one steal and one assist. Biggerstaff scored nine points with one rebound and one block in the contest, while Vargas had seven points, two rebounds, one steal and one block.
Carroll also praised the play of junior Bradley Washington, who finished with one point and five rebounds, three of those being offensive boards.
Arkansas High had four players in double figures led by Justin Williams with a game-high 19 points, three boards, six steals and one assist, James Parker with 15 points four boards, three assists and two steals, Kenneth Gregory with 12 points, nine boards and one assist, and Willie Paxton with 11 points, five rebounds, one steal and one assist.
The Wildcats opened up the game with their only lead of the game on a putback by Young with 7:20 remaining before Arkansas High went on a 15-1 run during the next three minutes of the quarter to take a 15-3 lead on a pair of free throws from Paxton.
The Wildcats found a way to cut into the lead and with 6:12 remaining in the half received a 3-pointer from Pope off an assist from Sam Pettit for a 28-26 deficit.
Arkansas High then responded with a 9-0 run as Williams scored seven points to extend the lead to 39-26 with 1:52 remaining.
The Razorbacks held a 39-28 lead at the half.
Sulphur Springs shot 3-of-16 in the third quarter of play and were down, 47-30, after a bucket by Williams off an assist from Paxton put the Razorbacks in the driver's seat.
The Wildcats rallied in the fourth quarter as the deficit went from 17 points at 53-36, down to a nine-point game at 55-46 with 1:29 remaining on a pair of free throws by Pope.
"Right now, we are just not closing out the games and we are getting to stretches where we are close," Carroll said.
"When you play Jacksonville close, Forney close, and Arkansas High close, it is disappointing. Game after game we are just not finishing off the game and that is something that we have to get hold of before district."
Sulphur Springs shot 15-of-65 for 23.1 percent, while Arkansas High shot 24-of-64 for 37.5 percent.
Both teams were almost identical in the rebounding column (45 for the Razorbacks to 43 for the Wildcats), but Arkansas High had more steals 13-7 and more assists 7-3 in the contest.
The Wildcats were scheduled to play the Daingerfield Tigers today at 11:30 a.m. in the consolation round of the tournament. With a win, Sulphur Springs will play again today at 5:30 p.m. If they lose, they will play at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow in their final game of the tournament.
"It is always tough in tournament play because you are not certain who you are going to get until the game before yours, so you don't have a lot of time to prepare," Carroll said.