By Richard Greene
The Northwest Texans hung with the No. 1 team in the state and the defending Class 5A champions, Flower Mound Marcus, for three quarters Wednesday.
But the Texans had no answer for Marcus’ 10-2 run to open the final frame of a 45-38 loss in the opening round of the 54th Whataburger Tournament at W.G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City.
Nick Banyard’s layin and free-throw with 5:16 left capped Marcus’ game-changing run and extended its lead to double digits, 38-27.
Banyard and Marcus point guard Phillip Forte, who fed him the ball on the layin, both finished with 13 points.
“They are good,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “They are not the No. 1 team in the state for no reason. Our kids performed and played hard. They didn’t panic at any time.”
The loss ended the Texans’ nine-game winning streak. Northwest will try to rebound Thursday at 5 p.m. against Garland Naaman Forest.
“Even though this was a loss, we got a lot of confidence from this game,” said Northwest center Todd Christensen. “We should come back and play good tomorrow.”
Northwest showed no intimidation against Marcus and its powerful trio of Banyard, Forte and Marcus Smart.
Even after falling behind 11-5 to start the game, Northwest fought back to get within two at the end of the first quarter, 13-11.
Marcus tried to pull away in the second quarter with Forte hitting a three-pointer to extend the lead to seven, 20-13, with 5:30 left. That would be Marcus’ final field goal of the half against a stingy Northwest defense.
“We knew what we had to do,” Christensen said. “We got down, guarded them and played them as hard as we could.”
Hatch added: “Defensively, we played well. The kids played hard, pinned their ears back and went at them.”
The Texans’ work on defense allowed them to end the half on a 10-2 run. Orlando Byrd’s second three-pointer of the frame gave Northwest a 23-22 lead with 55 seconds left in the first half.
Northwest took the lead into halftime.
But the shots that fell in the first half for the Texans would not go down after halftime. Northwest shot 5-for-21 in the second half.
The Texans made just one field goal in the third quarter with five turnovers as Marcus took a 28-25 lead.
“They defend so well,” Hatch said. “There was nothing easy. We couldn’t get the ball to go down.”
Peri James led Northwest with 11 points. Byrd finished with 10 points with all coming in the first half.