The Sulphur Springs Wildcats hosted the Longview Lobos Tuesday, looking to complete their series sweep. The Wildcats entered the game with a 7-2 district record, looking to pick up a win and even things up with Hallsville who was 8-2 entering the day.
Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start offensively, with neither team able to gain much of an advantage over the other. Longview ran a tough zone defense against the Wildcats, trying to prevent them from finding a rhythm.
“We knew what they were going to do, it’s a mixture of a 1-3-1 and a 2-3 zone, and they play it well,” head coach Brandon Shaver said after the game. “They’re long, they’re athletic, so it gives us a little bit of fits.”
After The Wildcats struggled for most of the opening frame, senior Justin Haire threw down a huge two-hand slam in the closing minutes of the quarter to give his team some momentum. Haire adding a free throw with less than 10 seconds in the frame, giving Sulphur Springs a 10-9 lead going into the second quarter.
Both teams began to pick up their offense in the second quarter, with the Wildcats extending their lead to 17-14 midway through the frame. Haire once again threw down a big two-hand dunk in the closing seconds of the half, as Sulphur Springs went into the locker room leading 22-16 at the end of the first half.
The Wildcats have been a great third quarter team for a majority of this season, and Tuesday proved to be the same, as Sulphur Springs was able to open things up to start the second half. Both teams had their highest scoring quarters of the game in the third, as the Wildcats doubled their point total, taking a 44-33 lead into the final frame.
With their backs against the wall and time working against them, Longview opened the final frame on a huge run, forcing a number of turnovers and capitalizing on the Wildcats mistakes. Longview opened the quarter on a big 14-2 run, taking a 47-46 lead with just 3:30 left in the game.
Branson Lynn answered back on the following possession for the Wildcats, knocking down his fourth 3-pointer of the night to give Sulphur Springs a 49-47 lead with 3:00 to go. Sulphur Springs used the momentum, forcing a turnover on the following possession, which led to two points on the other end from Kordrick Turner.
From that point on the Wildcats controlled the remainder of the game, pushing further and further away from the Lobos. Sulphur Springs was able to execute down the stretch, walking away with the 59-51 win.
Lynn was the leading scorer for the Wildcats, knocking down four 3-pointers in a 16-point performance. Haire and Turner were right behind him, scoring 13 points and 12 points respectively. Caleb Alexander added eight points to the total, while Parker Whisenhunt and Cason Arrington each had five points.
“Glad we we pulled it out, we talked about it at halftime, we knew they were going to make a run,” Shaver said. “Again, with our guys, they keep their composure. It’s a testament to what we do on the mental side of it and how hard these guys work.”
Shaver talked more about how much experience his team has playing in and winning close games. “It’s huge, I think for us it’s all about experience and figuring out that we can win the close games, and we’ve proved that we can.”
“It doesn’t matter what team it is, we’re going to get their best shot, which is good,” Shaver added. “Because it prepares us for what we’re going to have to do in the playoffs.”
The win pushes the Wildcats record to 24-9 and makes them 8-2 in district play. Hallsville and Mount Pleasant are each 8-2 as well, making a three-way tie at the top of the district.
Sulphur Springs is back in action at home Friday, against Mount Pleasant. The match will give one of the teams a chance to move ahead of the other in the district standings.
“It’s a huge game, it might could put us at the top of the district,” Shaver said about Friday’s match against Mount Pleasant. “We just tell them that it’s one game at a time and the next game is the biggest game and that biggest game is going to be Mount Pleasant.”
Friday’s match against Mount Pleasant will be broadcast live on the Chad’s Media Youtube channel by Tyler Lennon and Grayson McClure. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.