Northwest overcomes sloppy second half to down FW Southwest in region quarterfinals

By Reece Waddell | Published Tuesday, February 27, 2018.
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The Northwest Texans picked up right where they left off in the first half Tuesday night against Fort Worth Southwest.

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.

But from there, the Texans’ lead slowly started to evaporate. As Northwest went cold from the floor and committed several turnovers, Southwest started to chip away.

The Raiders cut the lead to six with under three minutes to play, and just before they could get to within striking distance, 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 over Southwest in the 5A Region I regional quarterfinal at the Thomas Coliseum. Northwest will play Randall in the regional semifinals at 6 p.m. 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 put-back with under a minute remaining swung momentum back to the Texans for good, as the Oklahoma football commit 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 not offensive rebounds once we got Darrell in there. I thought he was great.”

Junior Avery Anderson was the Texans’ second-leading scorer with 15. 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 off a screen who swung it to Julien Smith in the corner for a wide-open trey.

The Texans held a 30-16 lead at halftime, and 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 has won 15 consecutive games dating back to December 30. The win also clinched the Texans’ spot in the regional tournament. Northwest won the region last year and advanced to the state tournament.

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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