The Sulphur Springs Wildcats made their debut in the TABC rankings last week, earning the No. 21 spot after a strong start to the season. After another impressive weekend in the Forney tournament, the Wildcats find themselves one spot higher, coming in at No. 20 in the Dec. 13 edition of the Top-25 rankings.
Sulphur Springs got the tournament started Thursday, with a 65-56 loss to Wylie, just their third of the season. The Wildcats got off to a good start in the game, building a 19-11 lead early in the second quarter.
They played well on both sides of the ball, as later in the frame a Justin Haire block turned into a Parker Whisenhunt 3-pointer on the other end to go ahead 29-22. The Wildcats continued their lead into the third quarter, though Wylie did begin to start taking control of the game.
Sulphur Springs did their best to stay on top, but a huge fourth quarter from Wylie saw them pull away from the Wildcats, taking the game by a final score of 65-56. Caleb Alexander had a huge night for Sulphur Springs, dropping 15 points, while making four of his eight 3-point attempts.
Also scoring in double-digits were Whisenhunt and Haire who had 13 points and 12 points respectively. Haire also had a very impressive 22-rebound performance, as Sulphur Springs collected 41 rebounds as a team.
Looking for a bounce back win in their second game of the tournament, Sulphur Springs faced the host school, Forney. Sulphur Springs got off to a strong start against the host school, building a 19-13 lead in the opening frame.
The Wildcats continued to play well, extending their lead to 40-29 early in the second half. They never allowed Forney to work their way back into the game, cruising to a 62-53 victory.
It was Whisenhunt who led the way this time, finishing with 17 points in the game, going 7-12 from the field. Kordrick Turner was right behind him with a 15-point performance of his own. Turner also had eight boards to go with it, while Haire finished with nine points and 15 rebounds.
Looking to keep their momentum going, Sulphur Springs went back Friday for a match against Dallas Carter. Whisenhunt set the tone early, knocking down a 3-pointer in the opening minutes to give his team a 7-4 lead.
Turner and Branson Lynn followed a few possessions later with back-to-back 3-pointers of their own, as the Wildcats offense found a rhythm. Keeping his hot start going, Whisenhunt came up with a steal and turned it in to a two-hand slam on the other end, pushing the Wildcats lead to 15-8 in the opening frame.
Carter went on a run of their own to get themselves back into the game early in the second quarter, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Cason Arrington and Haire gave the Wildcats their second wind. On the following possession Whisenhunt came up with another steal and another big dunk, making sure Sulphur Springs never lost any of their momentum.
Early in the third quarter, with the Wildcats holding on to a close 38-34 lead, Whisenhunt did his thing once again, forcing a steal and slamming it home on the other end. From there Sulphur Springs went on a huge run, before Haire threw down a huge dunk of his own and the Wildcats went on to win by a commanding score of 64-47.
Whisenhunt, who had already had a very strong tournament, had his best game of the weekend to that point, leading the way with an impressive 24-point outing. He also had five steals, most of which he turned into dunks on the other end.
Not far behind him was Haire, who had 17 points on 8-15 shooting. Turner also had a strong game, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Later in the day Sulphur Springs went on to face the Waco Lions, looking to pick up a third consecutive victory. The Lions gave the Wildcats a very strong opening quarter, although they weren’t able to stay in it long after that.
Trailing 18-14 at the end of the first quarter, Sulphur Springs went on to outscore Waco 39-22 in the second and third quarters, putting themselves in great position to close the game out. The Wildcats went on to outscore the Lions by eight more points in the final frame, winning the game 72-51.
Whisenhunt continued his trend of adding to his point total each game, this time leading the way with 25 points. The Wildcats had a +30 point differential when Whisenhunt was in the game.
Lynn had an excellent outing as well, putting up 17 points on 60% shooting. Also finishing in double-digits were Haire and Caleb Alexander who had 12 points each. Haire had yet another double-double, finishing with 14 rebounds.
Sulphur Springs went back for one final game Saturday, this time against the No. 8 team in 6A, Lake Highlands. Executing head coach Brandon Shaver’s strategy of controlling the first three minutes of the game, Sulphur Springs was able to score the first 11 points of the match.
Later in the frame Turner made a beautiful cross court pass to find Lynn open for a deep 3-pointer, extending their lead to 16-5. Early in the second quarter Whisenhunt kept the scoring going, knocking down a 3-pointer in the corner to make it 21-7.
Haire finished off the first half for the Wildcats in dramatic fashion. The Sulphur Springs big caught the ball with just a few seconds on remaining on the clock, Haire would pump fake to get his defender off his feet, giving him enough room to knock down the buzzer beater 3-pointer to go ahead 28-20 at the end of the first half.
As one of the best teams in the state of Texas, Lake Highlands did not go down easy, controlling the second half and forcing overtime. It was in the overtime where Lynn knocked down a big 3-pointer to give his team a one-point lead.
The two teams continued to match each other, forcing a dramatic second overtime. Despite their best efforts, the Wildcats would eventually fall in the second overtime period, losing by a score of 73-69.
This time it was Lynn who led the way, scoring 21 points and dishing out three assists. Haire had yet another double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Whisenhunt kept his strong play going with 15 points of his own.
After the 3-2 weekend the Wildcats find themselves with a 13-4 record, and climbed one spot to No. 20 in the TABC rankings. Whisenhunt was the leading scorer for the Wildcats in the Forney tournament, scoring just shy of 19 points per game. Haire was also huge, averaging a 12.8-point, 14.6-rebound double-double.
Lynn also averaged double-digit points over the weekend, scoring 11 points per game and dishing out 2.2 assists.
Sulphur Springs has a pair of road games this week, before returning home Tuesday, Dec. 21 for their district opener against Marshall. The Wildcats face Arlington Heights Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Arrington Grace Prep Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Coverage of both games will be provided on Front Porch News.