The Sulphur Springs Wildcats had their toughest task of the season Thursday, as they faced the Atascocita Eagles in tournament action. The Eagles are currently ranked No. 5 in 6A according to TABC.
The game started with a very evenly matched first quarter, with neither team able to break away from the other. Despite an Eagles defense which featured pressure the entire length of the floor, Sulphur Springs held their own, trailing 21-17 at the end of the first quarter.
It looked like things may be getting away from the Wildcats early in the second quarter, as Atascocita came out on fire in the opening minutes of the frame. They scored the first 11 points of the quarter, before Sulphur Springs began to chip away at the lead.
Sophomore Malachi Myles scored the first points of the frame for the Wildcats, grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back in. Junior Kordrick Turner scored in the paint a few possessions later, before senior Caleb Alexander turned things up a notch.
In the final few minutes of the half Alexander made a pair of free throws and a pair of 3-pointers, giving the Wildcats a ton of momentum. Cole Theofiledes got a 3-pointer to go as well, and Sulphur Springs cut the deficit to just 38-32 at the end of the first half.
The Wildcats came out of the half firing on all cylinders, scoring in the paint early on. Turner found Justin Haire down lay on the opening possession, before getting a pair of buckets for himself in the paint to cut the deficit to 40-38.
Later in the frame Branson Lynn brought the Wildcats to the closest they had been all night, knocking down a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game. Trailing 46-45 with 2:39 left in the third quarter, Sulphur Springs couldn’t get another basket for the remainder of the frame, and Atascocita extended their lead to 51-45 entering the final frame.
The Wildcats opened the fourth quarter with four quick points, thanks to a baseline floater from Lynn and a layup from Haire. Atascocita answered back with a run of their own, pushing their lead to 61-51 with just 3:08.
Despite the clock working against them, Sulphur Springs never let themselves get down. Haire knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, giving the Wildcats a ton of momentum.
Turner, who had plenty of success in the paint throughout the game, came up very clutch for the Wildcats, scoring on back-to-back possessions to make it a one-point game with just 45 seconds left to play.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Atascocita was able to hold on to their lead, making their free throws after a pair of Sulphur Springs turnovers. Despite their best efforts to pull off the comeback, Sulphur Springs fell by a final score of 66-61.
The loss is their first of the season, making them 6-1 to open the year. The Atascocita Eagles, who are currently ranked No. 5 in 6A improve to 9-2.
Continued coverage of how Sulphur Springs does this weekend will be published on Front Porch News.