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Wildcats grab win in season opener

by Tyler Lennon

The Sulphur Springs Wildcats hosted Paris for their home opener Tuesday. Sulphur Springs was looking to pick up where they left off after beating Tyler Legacy on the road Saturday by a final score of 72-30.

The Wildcats opened the game with a ton of momentum, scoring the first seven points of the game. Cason Arrington was able to help set the tone, getting a pair of 3-pointers to fall in the opening frame.

Caleb Alexander joined in with a 3-pointer of his own and Kordrick Turner followed with a bucket in the post, helping the Wildcats push their lead to 19-6 heading in to the second quarter.

Paris opened the second frame with a ton of momentum, going on an 11-1 run to open things up. With their lead cut to 20-17 Sulphur Springs began to find their offense again, thanks to a jumper from Justin Haire. 

Parker Whisenhunt kept the spark going for the Wildcats, scoring on back-to-back possessions, one of which came via the 3-pointer.

The game stayed close for the remainder of the half and with 34.2 seconds left to play Sulphur Springs had just a three-point lead. The Wildcats were able to keep the ball for the remainder of the frame, where they found Malachi Myles in the corner. Myles got his shot off just before time expired, hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Wildcats a 31-25 lead at the end of the first half.

Sulphur Springs came back out of the locker room and were able to translate their momentum into the third frame, turning in their largest scoring quarter of the night. Alexander led the way in the frame, scoring 11 points, thanks in large part to knocking down three 3-pointers. The Wildcats sharpshooter ended the frame by hitting a very deep 3-pointer as time expired, putting his team ahead 50-38 at the end of the third quarter.

With their backs against the wall and the clock working against them, Paris opened the fourth quarter by scoring five quick points to put themselves back within single-digits. Looking to keep momentum on their side Whisenhunt pumped up the crowd when he drove the baseline and threw down a big dunk.

Later in the frame Whisenhunt continued his strong play, grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds and scoring on back-to-back possessions. Sulphur Springs began to run away with the game and a huge two-hand slam from Haire but the final nail in the coffin, as the Wildcats walked away with the 63-49 win in their home opener.

“It’s an awesome experience,” coach Brandon Shaver said about getting the win in front of the home crowd. “For our kids to be able to play in that, love our fans, our student section and everybody that was out tonight, it’s just a fun environment for our kids to play in.”

Alexander was the leading scorer for the Wildcats, finishing with a total of 14 points. Aside from his 11 third quarter points he also knocked down a 3-pointer in the opening frame. 

“It felt good,” Alexander said after the game about getting his shots to fall. “Last game at [Tyler] Legacy I couldn’t buy a shot so, just seeing it go in after a couple misses felt good.”

Just behind him were Haire and Whisenhunt who each had 12 points. They each came up big in the final frame, combining for 11 of the teams 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Turner had a strong outing as well, finishing with eight points. The big man had four points in the first quarter and another four points in the third quarter. Junior guard Branson Lynn was right there with him, adding eight points of his own.

Other notables for Sulphur Springs were Arrington and Myles who had six points and three points respectively. 

The win improves the Wildcats record to 2-0 to open the season. In their first two games they have outscored their opponents 135-79, winning by an average margin of 28 points. 

The Wildcats don’t return home until Saturday, Nov. 27 when they will host Henderson at 1 p.m.

Sulphur Springs will also get to play in front of their home crowd in another pair of games soon after, starting with their Tuesday, Nov. 30 game against Rockwall, before they host Royse City Tuesday, Dec. 7.

To see our extended postgame interviews from Tuesday’s game click here:

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