Basketball: Survive and advance – Texans return to region tourney

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 3, 2018
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Moving On

MOVING ON – Northwest guard Avery Anderson drives against Southwest. Anderson finished with 15 points in the playoff victory. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

The Northwest Texans dominated the first half Tuesday against Fort Worth Southwest and did not show any signs of slowing down when the second half began.

RISING TO THE OCCASION – Northwest’s Avery Anderson knocks down a 3 in the Texans’ playoff victory over Southwest. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

On their first possession of the third quarter, senior Mason Hix buried a corner 3 to give Northwest its largest lead of the night at 33-16. Hix flashed a smile as he jogged back down the court, with the Texans in firm control of the game.

From there, though, Northwest’s lead slowly started to evaporate. As the Texans went cold from the floor and committed several turnovers, Southwest began to chip away. The Raiders cut the lead to six with under three minutes to play, but just before Southwest could get to within striking distance, Northwest senior Darrell Simpson came up big.

Simpson tipped in a shot to give the Texans some breathing room with under two minutes left – and Northwest never looked back. Despite spotty free-throw shooting down the stretch, the Texans escaped with a 55-51 victory in the 5A Region I quarterfinal at the Thomas Coliseum. Northwest played Canyon Randall in the regional semifinals Friday in Snyder.

“We did everything we could do to possibly try and lose that game,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “We got lucky enough to win. It’s about survive and advance. That’s all it is in the playoffs.

“I just thought we played so mindless. We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.”

Although Hix led Northwest in scoring with 21 points, it was Simpson who was ultimately the difference-maker in crunch time. Simpson’s putback with under a minute remaining swung momentum back to the Texans for good. The Oklahoma football signee cleaned the glass all game.

He finished with eight points and was a dominant presence in the paint for Northwest.

“Darrell changed the whole game on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively,” Hatch said. “He controlled the boards. They were killing us on the offensive glass to start the game, and they got no offensive rebounds once we got Darrell in there. I thought he was great.”

Junior Avery Anderson added 15 points. Anderson helped Northwest go on a 15-7 run in the second quarter to build its double-digit lead. The Texans went up by 11 when Anderson reversed the ball back to Hix, who found Julien Smith in the corner for a wide-open trey.

The Texans held a 30-16 lead at halftime. Anderson said the message from Hatch at the intermission was clear.

“We took advantage of them in the second quarter, and coming out of halftime, coach said, ‘Try to step on their throats this half,'” Anderson said. “We came out and [Hix] hit that big 3 and that got us rolling again.”

Southwest got to within four with 34.7 seconds left, but that was as close as they got. The Raiders were forced to foul, and Anderson stepped up to the charity stripe and knocked down both free throws to put Northwest up by six.

Southwest’s 3 on the next possession did not even draw iron, as the Texans rebounded the miss to put the game away for good.

With the victory, Northwest extended its winning streak to 15 games dating back to Dec. 30. If the Texans beat Randall on Friday, they would play the winner of Amarillo and Fort Worth Wyatt in the regional final with a trip to San Antonio on the line.

“I’ve never been to the regional tournament. I’m ready to get there this weekend,” Hix said. “Before I even came here, I already knew the goal for them and the team was to get to state. I know they want it, and I want it just as bad for my senior year. I want to get it for the other seniors, too.”

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