With a thunderous two-handed dunk by Fort Bend Marshall’s John Walker III late in the fourth quarter, the Buffalo’s put the finishing touches on a decisive Class 5A state semifinal victory and ended the Northwest Texans dreams season. Despite a heroic effort from sophomore standout Avery Anderson and his team-leading 23 points, the Texans (32-6) had no answer for the Buffaloes (32-7) losing, 82-59.
It was the first trip to the state tournament for both teams, but it will be Fort Bend Marshall playing for their first ever state championship as they advance to take on Mansfield Timberview Saturday afternoon.
“We thought we had a good team and we did,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “I don’t know if we had a good enough team to get down to the final four, but we had a good team. These guys just grew closer and closer together and it’s tough for the season to end for them. They enjoy practicing everyday and they love to play. It was a neat group to see grow into what they’ve become.”
Northwest fought to keep the game close in the first half after the Buffaloes opened the game on a 10-4 run. A late run got the Texans within 17-14 at the end of the first.
The Texans continued to plug away in the second and took their first lead with six minutes left in the half on an Anderson layup and-one. Northwest’s lead would never grow to more than two points.
Marshall’s Tajzmel Sherman, who led all scorers with 25, hit layup with just over four minutes left in the half to start a 13-0 run and give the Buffaloes the lead for good. Marshall’s pressure defense turned out to be the big difference as the Buffalo’s scored 33 points off of Texan turnovers.
Northwest cut the deficit back to 36-28 at the half, but could never climb any closer. The Texans struggled in the third to keep the game close with numerous missed shots from point-blank range. Marshall’s lead grew as the Texans’ frustration continued to mount.
“We struggled in the third quarter to finish,” Hatch said. “We gave ourselves plenty of opportunities we just didn’t finish them. Against a team like Marshall you want to take advantage of every opportunity cause you don’t get that many, and they didn’t miss their opportunities. It was like a lid on the basket and we couldn’t get it off and our kids just kept fighting. I’m proud as I can be of our kids.”
The Buffalo’s took a 12-point advantage to the fourth quarter and began to put the game away. They outscored the Texans 30-16 in the frame, never letting Northwest to get any closer than 10 points.
Despite the setback Northwest returns four of their five starters and should be primed for the future.
“We are a young team and hopefully we’ll get back here,” Hatch said.
Besides Anderson, Northwest was led by Jordan Keys with 12 and Jay A’mons with 10.