Seven Slidell points in a minute’s time brought the Greyhounds back from a 13-point deficit to trail by six, 48-42, with 1:08 left in the third period of Tuesday’s Class A Division II bi-district game at Howe High School.
The Ector Eagles then put on a speed drill of their own, scoring six points in 28 seconds – including a buzzer-beating 75-foot heave by P.J. Connelly – to up the lead to 12 en route to a 70-55 win over Slidell.
“We got back into it late in the third quarter,” said Slidell coach Todd McCormick of buckets by Daniel McCasland, Aaron Leake and Trent Garrett. “But then they hit a couple of plays that widened the gap again like that full-court shot.”
Connelly even threw in a shot behind his head as the Eagles ended a satisfying season for Slidell’s boys.
“We won 24 games, and that’s something to be proud of,” McCormick said of his District 17-A runnersup.
Junior Scott Bingham added: “Twenty-four wins is the most we’ve had in a couple of years. We haven’t made it to the playoffs in a couple of years, either. So this was a big playoff game, and they [the Eagles] are a pretty good team.
“I’m glad we got to face them. This game will help us next year.”
Ector, the third-place team from 18-A, was led by 6-foot-4 senior Jacob Crowell. He scored 28 points and grabbed 20 rebounds.
“The big guy wasn’t really the problem,” Bingham said. “They could really shoot the ball.”
Ector shot 50 percent (30-for-60) for the game while the Greyhounds hit 36 percent, 21 of 58.
Garrett led Slidell with 12 points. Leake added 11 points, and freshman Tyler Maynard scored nine points.
Playing without a player taller than six feet, the Greyhounds forced the tempo and got after Ector defensively, forcing 26 turnovers.
The refs let the two teams play, with Slidell shooting only 17 free throws and Ector 14.
“The shots didn’t want to fall for us,” Bingham said. “But we just kept pushing. We fought the whole game.”
Crowell scored 12 points in the first quarter and six in the second as Ector jumped out to leads of 16-11 and 33-21 at the end of the first and second quarters.
“They had some height, and we kind of struggled with it early on,” McCormick said. “[Crowell] was a little too much for us early. But in the second half, we got a handle on them.”
Maynard led Slidell with six points in the first quarter. Bingham did all his scoring with four points in the second period.
Back-to-back buckets by Garrett cut Ector’s lead to six at 37-31, with 4:35 left in the third quarter. But the Eagles ran their lead back to 13 points with 2:13 left in the period.
That’s when Crowell scored from underneath, drew a foul by Leake, then saw Ector teammate Jimmy Ford grab his missed free throw and score a follow-shot for a four-point play and a 48-35 lead.
McCasland rebounded Leake’s missed three-point try and scored. Leake raced downcourt to score on a layup-and-one, and Garrett scored from underneath on a Leake asisst to make it 48-42 with 1:02 left in the third.
But Connelly’s three-quarter-court fling from just outside his own free throw circle capped the Eagles’ answer. Then his no-look, behind-the-head layup capped an 8-0 run that put Ector up by 17, 64-47, with 4:59 to go.
Ector led by 18, 70-52, before Slidell scored the final three points.
“We knew they liked to play fast,” McCormick said of the Eagles. “I was hoping we’d be a little quicker, and I thought we were. But they played better tonight.”