|Wildcats end pre-district schedule with win|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Jan. 6, 2007 - TEXARKANA - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats head into their District 11-4A opener next Friday on a four-game winning streak after taking care of the Pleasant Grove Hawks, 54-48, at Hawk Gymnasium Friday night.
"We didn't play as well as we needed to play tonight going into district," said SSHS coach Rusty Harden. "I am not complaining, and I will take my win and drive home."
SSHS (15-4) put the game out of reach on a long pass from Andrew Panter to Aaron Williams for an easy layup and a 52-48 lead with 28 seconds remaining.
"For a while there, we were delaying it trying to get easy shots and weren't being successful," the coach said. "I thought we should attack when we had the numbers and that was a big play for us."
Senior Ladarius Harrison led the team in scoring with 14 points and four rebounds, while Drew Biggerstaff and Bradley Washington scored 10 points each for the Wildcats. Washington also had six rebounds and three steals.
Both teams went back-and-forth in the first half tied at 28-28 heading into the locker room as Harrison scored 11 of the 13 points in the second quarter. Panter had the other basket on a jumper for a 17-15 lead with 6:10 remaining in the half.
With 2:17 left in the half, Harrison gave Sulphur Springs its biggest lead of the half at 24-19 with a layup and free throw off an assist from Colten Nash, and then Pleasant Grove battled back on buckets by Eric Bragg and Devaro Pierce for a 24-23 deficit.
Following an offensive putback by Harrison for a 28-25 lead, Pleasant Grove's Adam Sorenson nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at the half.
"We didn't have any momentum so we had nothing to let down," Harden said. "It was a dogfight right there and we had no momentum."
In the second half, the teams continued to trade the lead and with 3:53 remaining Washington tied the game at 34-34 with an offensive putback and then Pleasant Grove's Clint Herrington nailed 1-of-2 free throws for their final score of the quarter.
Sulphur Springs then went on an 8-0 run to take a 42-35 lead into the final quarter of play on two buckets by Nash and a Biggerstaff layup and free throws.
In the fourth, the Wildcats went on another run - this time a 6-0 run - to take a 10-point lead at 48-38 with 3:39 remaining in the game.
Pleasant Grove cut the Wildcats' lead to 48-45 with 1:10 remaining with buckets from Sorenson, a 3-pointer by Michael Wacha and a short jumper by Daniel Poras.
Williams then drained two free throws for the Wildcats before Wacha nailed his second 3-pointer uncontested from the top of the arc for a 50-48 deficit.
The Wildcats shot 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) compared to 20-of-44 (45.4 percent) for the Hawks and out-rebounded them 29-25.
Harden said with the Wildcats having 16 turnovers in the game, the team is going to work on handling the press this week before their district opener at Mount Pleasant on Friday night.
"We are going to work on people pressing us because we have a hard time with people pressing us. If I was any team in our district, that is what I would do against us," he said.
"Any body that has watched us knows that we are shaky against the press, so that is what I would do every single night against us."