Marshall ends Texans’ dream season in semifinal

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.

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Basketball: Reaching rare air – Senior makes second state championships

Reaching the state tournament or meet is a goal that only a handful of Texas’ thousands of athletes accomplish each year.

Getting to state championships in two sports in the same year is an even rarer feat, especially at the 5A level. It’s rare company that Northwest senior starting point guard Tucker Dunn will join Thursday night. A few months after running in the state cross country meet, he will take the floor for the 5A semifinal in the University Interscholastic League basketball championships at the Alamodome in San Antonio

RISING TO OCCASION – Northwest senior point guard Tucker Dunn helped the Texans to the state tournament after an all-tournament performance at regionals this weekend. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Dunn and the Texans take on Fort Bend Marshall at 8:30 p.m. for a chance to play for a state title in what has been a memorable year for the Rhome resident.

“This senior year has definitely been one to remember. I’ve done a lot, not just sports wise but academically,” said Dunn, who was a yell leader at football games in the fall and was nominated for the homecoming court.

“I feel like a leader at this school, and that’s a really good feeling.”

Before the unique year started, Dunn had never ran cross country and only played a handful of varsity basketball games.

He decided to run cross country on the encouragement of a friend that ended up moving to Colorado.

“I’ve always known I was good at long distance,” Dunn said. “I wanted to get in shape for my last year of basketball, so I decided why not go run cross country and get in better shape.”

Reaching the state cross country meet was not on Dunn’s mind when he started. When the Texans captured the District 6-5A title, he realized it was a very real possibility.

“I was just out there running. Once we got first at district, I was like ‘Wow, we do have a shot to go to state,'” Dunn said.

After finishing 14th at the district meet in 17:22, Dunn turned in the best two performances of his career at regionals and state. He ran 16:49 at regionals and a personal best 16:33 in Round Rock at the state meet.

“What a gamer,” said Northwest cross country coach Josh Allen. “His best race of the season was at state where he ran a 5K PR.

“He’s coachable – a leader full of positive energy. To have no high school cross country experience and to have his best races at regionals and state is beyond impressive. I wish he wasn’t a senior.”

After cross country, he quickly joined the Texans on the court. With the graduation of several key seniors from last year, Dunn knew the opportunity was open for him to prove himself.

He quickly meshed with several other players moving into key roles for the Texans.

“We graduated a lot of seniors last year. Three or four of them started,” Dunn said. “Most of the guys that start now, I played with last year [on JV].”

He quickly established himself as a leader on the defensive end of the floor with his tireless effort and ability to hound opposing guards.

“He’s our best defender,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “He leads the team with 28 charges drawn. He’s just tough.”

Dunn credits the experience of running cross country with helping him on defense, especially late in games.

“My endurance from cross country definitely plays a part in that,” Dunn said. “Cross country taught me a new mindset. I always try as hard as I can and always want to get better.”

His teammates appreciate his energy and gritty play.

“He pushes me a lot in practice,” said Northwest leading scorer Avery Anderson, who shares the backcourt with Dunn. “If we’re slacking, he gets us going. He’s a good teammate.

“He’s a good point guard. He distributes the ball well.”

On a team with offensive weapons like Anderson, one of the top sophomores in the state, and Julien Smith, Dunn has picked his spots to call his own number.

“I’ve had to do it at the right moments – be patient and when my time comes, my time comes,” Dunn said.

One of those moments came in the region semifinal. With two of the team’s leading scorers fouled out, Dunn helped the Texans fight back from down six to win in overtime. Dunn sealed the win with two free throws for part of his 10 points and four assists.

In the region final, he scored 12 points and again hit the game-sealing free throws. He earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

“He had a great tournament,” Hatch said. “As far as scoring, he’d not scored a lot in the first three playoff games, but this weekend he was phenomenal.

“He’s a heck of a competitor – one tough cat mentally. Every day is a new day and if he has one bad play, he quickly moves on.”

As memorable as this year’s been, he’s not satisfied with just reaching a second state championship. He wants to bring home a title.

“I don’t want to get too excited because we’re going to state. I want to win the whole thing,” Dunn said.

And recalling that he wasn’t crowned homecoming king, he’s not ruling out more crowns after basketball.

“Maybe I got a chance at prom,” Dunn cracked.

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Basketball: Texans make historic run state tourney

Coming off a 2016 campaign that included a run to the region quarterfinal before falling to eventual 6A champion DeSoto, a young Northwest Texans team entered this year with many unknowns.

After graduating a pair of all-district performers in Tavian Ezell and Darrell Lipscombe and several other key seniors, Northwest had to rely on several players with little varsity experience.

“Last year’s team was a big underdog and rose to the occasion and were the best team we’ve had. They were so mentally tough,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “This year, we were mostly inexperienced and very young. We didn’t know exactly what we had. We didn’t know if we could grow and be able to all pull rope together.”

It didn’t take long for the young team to grow up and rewrite Texan history. Northwest captured its first district title since 2010, going 13-1 in 6-5A. The Texans followed that with their first regional appearance since 1994. Saturday, Northwest earned the program’s first state trip with a 65-62 win over El Paso Burges in the 5A Region I final.

“It has a lot to do with the kids having faith in us as coaches to get to this point,” Hatch said.

“The state tournament is just a validation of our hard work. We tell our kids that anything is possible. You’ve got to work hard.”

The Texans will play in the 5A semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Fort Bend Marshall at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The winner will play in the title game at 3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s other semifinal between Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial or Mansfield Timberview.

“It’s going to be crazy. We don’t want to get too excited,” said senior point guard Tucker Dunn. “We want to win the whole thing.”

The Texans needed a pair of close wins to earn the state trip. Northwest beat El Paso Andress 62-58 in overtime in the region semifinal behind 20 points from Julien Smith and 14 from Avery Anderson.

In the region final, Northwest trailed nine, 35-26, at halftime. The Texans then went on a 20-7 run in the third quarter to take the lead and held on.

Anderson scored 22 and Dunn 12.

Though a sophomore, Anderson has been one of the Texans’ leaders as one of the few returning starters.

“Since I was on varsity the previous year, I had to push everyone and tell them how it is,” Anderson said.

The tight region tournament games followed a trend for the Texans with strong second halves.

“We work hard in practice every day and when it comes down to clutch situations, we pull it out,” Anderson said.

Hatch added: “We’ve instilled in them to keep working and wear the other team down. We’ve been down double figures, but they’ve kept grinding.”

The Texans just need to grind out two more to etch their name further in Northwest lore and bring home a state title.

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Basketball: Texans earn first region bid since 1994

Basketball: Texans earn first region bid since 1994

Strong to the Hoop

STRONG TO THE HOOP – Northwest’s Julien Smith takes a short shot over a Birdville defender during the Texans’ win Tuesday. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

The Northwest Texans earned their first trip to the region tournament in 23 years Tuesday night.

Behind 34 points from sophomore Avery Anderson, the Texans took down Birdville 76-58 in the 5A Region I quarterfinal at Coppell.

The Texans (30-4) took on El Paso Andress in the region semifinal Friday at West Texas College in Snyder. The winner will play in the region final for a chance to go to the state tournament at 2 p.m. Saturday against El Paso Burges or Eastern Hills.

The Texans stormed back from an early deficit Tuesday against Birdville. Trailing 15-12 after one, Northwest heated up offensively scoring at least 20 in the next three frames.

Northwest outscored Birdville 20-12 in the second to take a 32-27 halftime lead. The Texans built the lead to 45-34 entering the fourth quarter.

Julien Smith finished with 15 points and Jordan Keys 13.

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Basketball: Tough ending – Eagles fall in OT to defending champs

Reaching the End

REACHING THE END – Decatur’s Bryce Elder consoles teamate Drew Redwine after the Eagles’ overtime loss to Dallas Lincoln in the Class 4A Region III quarterfinal Tuesday at Richland HIgh School. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur Eagles dug out of a 12-1 hole to start the game and used a one-handed jumper from Wilson Hicks and a defensive stop in the closing seconds to force overtime Tuesday night.

In the extra period, Lincoln’s Tacorian Jones’ quick hands provided the difference. The guard made a pair of steals. The second he converted into a layup and one that put the defending 4A champions up six and on the way to the 61-55 victory in the Region II quarterfinal at Richland High School.

FINISHING STRONG – Decatur’s Parker Hicks takes the ball to the basket. The Decatur senior scored 26 points in his final game. He finished the year averaging more 30 points per game. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We kept fighting. We never gave up. It just didn’t go our way at the end,” said Decatur senior Parker Hicks, who closed his career with 26 points and nine rebounds.

“We knew it would be a tough matchup. We believed we had it. We proved it for four quarters. We just didn’t finish it in overtime. We proved we’re just as good as anyone in the state.”

Lincoln outscored Decatur 10-4 in the overtime to book a trip to the Class 4A Region II tournament at Texas A&M-Commerce Friday. Lincoln will play Paris at 8 p.m.

The loss ended the Eagles’ season at 28-8. It was also the final game for four Decatur seniors – Parker Hicks, Bryce Elder, Drew Redwine and Nick Young.

“You go and watch them play eighth-grade basketball games, and you watch them grow up and mature,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “You watch all the hard work they put into it. As bad as they are hurting, I’m hurting just as bad. It’s a hard pill to swallow that this is the last time you get to coach a group of special, special kids.”

Hicks finished the season averaging 30.3 points per game.

“There’s no better player in the state of Texas than Parker Hicks,” Coffman said.

Parker Hicks praised his teammates for the accomplishments this season.

“It was special, especially being my last year at Decatur. It’s tough to go off like this,” he said. “At the same time, we can think about all the positive things we’ve done.”

With Jones’ two steals, Decatur committed four turnovers in overtime. The Eagles had 30 turnovers in the game.

“They’ve got Division I players all over the place. I don’t think it had anything to do with what we were doing,” Coffman said. “Obviously, we’d like to take care of the ball better at times. It had a lot to do with how good they are.”

Decatur had six turnovers during a six-minute scoring drought in the first quarter as Lincoln went on a 12-0 run. Dane Fitzgerald’s 3-pointer ended the dry spell and started a 8-0 spurt for Decatur.

Decatur continued the rally, tying the game at 24 with Parker Hicks’ 3-pointer and taking the lead on a free throw by Nick Young.

The Eagles held a one-point lead until Lincoln’s Devonte Reese and Kortrijk Miles hit back-to-back 3s in the final 11 seconds of the first half to take a 32-37 halftime lead.

Miles led all scorers with 21 points.

Lincoln stayed in front until Parker Hicks tied the game with a layup and-one a minute into the fourth. Decatur appeared to have grabbed a lead with three minutes to go on a Parker Hicks layup, but it was waved off by a travel call.

Decatur entered the final minute down 51-49. After a missed Lincoln free throw, sophomore Wilson Hicks hit a soft jumper with nine seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.

Wilson Hicks finished with 18 points, scoring the Eagles’ lone field goal in the overtime.

LINCOLN 61, DECATUR 55

Lincoln … 15 … 17 … 8 … 11 … 10 … – … 61
Decatur … 9 … 18 … 11 … 13 … 4 … – … 55

LINCOLN – Kennedy Milton 11, Lamarsay Austin 8, Kortrijk Miles 21, Devonte Reese 6, Tacorian Jones 11, Jeremiah Whitaker 4.

DECATUR (28-8) – Nick Young 1, Parker Hicks 26, Dane Fitzgerald 5, Drew Redwine 2, Wilson Hicks 18, Bryce Elder 3.

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Basketball: Saltillo holds off Greyhounds

Saltillo used a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to grab the lead and force the Slidell Greyhounds to play catch-up the rest of the way.

The Greyhounds stayed within reach until the final seconds as Saltillo escaped with 58-56 victory in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at Blue Ridge High School.

“We got within one with four seconds left,” said Slidell coach Todd McCormick. “It was one of those games where a few breaks either way can make a difference.”

The loss ends Slidell’s season at 23-10. Slidell made the third round of the playoffs a year after missing the playoffs.

“It was a good season. It’s something we can build on for the younger kids,” McCormick said. “The seniors came a long ways since seventh grade. Colton [Crane] worked really hard to get back after missing the early part with an injury. He really added something down the stretch.”

Crane scored 12 points and grabbed five boards in his final game. Crane was joined by seniors Walker Gladden and Erick Gutierrez in wrapping up their careers.

The game was tight throughout, tied at 14 after the first quarter and at 26 at halftime.

Slidell tried to pull away early in the third, going on a 7-2 run to take a 33-28 lead midway through the frame.

Saltillo ended the frame by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull within two, 41-39.

Saltillo pulled ahead early in the fourth and took a 50-43 lead before Slayton Pruett hit a 3-pointer to end the Saltillo run.

“They hit that 3 in the corner to end the third and had the momentum going into fourth,” McCormick said.

Pruett finished with nine points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals. He filled up the stat line despite battling foul trouble throughout the night.

Colton Crane capped a 7-0 run for Slidell to tie the game at 50 with a layup with 1:40 left.

Saltillo went back in front on the next possession, and Slidell could never get back to even. Shelby Johnson’s 3-pointer with five seconds left pulled the Greyhounds within one, 57-56, but they couldn’t get another basket as time ran out.

Johnson led the Greyhounds with 18 points.

Layton Shelton scored seven.

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Basketball: Red-hot Eagles shoot down Kaufman – Decatur returns to region quarterfinal

Basketball: Red-hot Eagles shoot down Kaufman – Decatur returns to region quarterfinal

Seat Riser

SEAT-RISER – Decatur players erupt off the bench after Drew Redwine’s halftime buzzer-beating shot during the Eagles’ win over Kaufman. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Kaufman started the game hoping to slow the Decatur Eagles and set a deliberate pace.

The strategy worked – for almost four minutes.

Decatur’s scorching-hot shooting quickly brought to rest any hopes of Kaufman putting the brakes on the game. The Eagles hit seven of their first 11 shots and raced to a double-digit lead in the first quarter. Decatur shot 63 percent (35-for-55) in establishing a season-high in points in the 102-37 Class 4A Region II area victory over Kaufman at Frisco Independence.

ON TARGET – Decatur’s Wilson Hicks takes a shot over a Kaufman defender during the Eagles’ 102-37 win Friday in the 4A Region II area round. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We came out and shot the ball well. When we play like that we’re going to be hard to beat,” said Decatur senior Parker Hicks. “They tried to slow it down at the beginning, but once we took the lead we took it from there. We knew once we got the lead they couldn’t play slow anymore to catch up.”

With the victory, Decatur reaches a region quarterfinal for a second straight year. The Eagles took on defending 4A state champion Dallas Lincoln at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Richland High School.

“It’s a huge hurdle – the defending state champion that has four starters back,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “It’ll definitely be a difficult challenge. But if you want to be the best, you have to go up against the best and beat the best. This will be the next step.”

Decatur fell in the region quarterfinal in 2016, 2014 and 2007.

“It’s been since 2003 that Decatur has been to the regional tournament. We’re trying to be that first team to get over that hump,” Hicks said.

Hicks finished with 44 points and 14 rebounds. After hitting his fifth 3-pointer, Hicks and the rest of the starters sat the final four minutes as the Decatur reserves tossed in the final 10 points to get over the century-mark.

Ten different Eagles scored with Wilson Hicks adding 17 and Bryce Elder 14.

“We really played well. I kidded earlier that we shot the lights out during school. We just carried it over to Frisco,” said Coffman, referring to the power outage at Decatur High School during the day Friday.

Decatur knocked down 13 3-pointers, hitting at 59 percent (13-for-22) from beyond the arc.

“A lot of that had to do with our ball movement. We got good looks because our guys made the extra pass,” Coffman said. “They turned down the good shot to get the great shot.”

Among the 3-pointers were two buzzer beaters. Drew Redwine made a steal near midcourt and then banked in a running 3 at the halftime buzzer to put Decatur up 45-16.

To close the third off an inbound play, Dane Fitzgerald hit a 3-pointer from halfcourt to send Decatur into the final frame up 75-23.

“People don’t believe me but we practice two half-court shots every game day,” Coffman said. “This is the first time they actually went in.”

Decatur seized control of the game in final four minutes of the first quarter, going on a 15-3 run.

The Eagles extended the run to 30-5, building a 35-10 lead on Parker Hicks’ layup with 3:04 left in the first half.

Encouraging Words

ENCOURAGING WORDS – Decatur coach Drew Coffman celebrates a basket during the Eagles’ win over Kaufman Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DECATUR 102, KAUFMAN 37

Kaufman … 8 … 8 … 7 … 14 … – … 37
Decatur … 20 … 25 … 30 … 27 … – … 102

KAUFMAN (21-10) – Spencer Davis 6, Trey Collier 6, Connor Smith 3, Drey Banks 2, Dylan Gunter 4, Will Sisson 16.

DECATUR (28-7) – Parker Hicks 44, Dane Fitzgerald 3, Drew Redwine 9, Wilson Hicks 17, Bryce Elder 14, Sergio Sanchez 2, John Johnson 5, Gage Rieger 3, Drew Langto 3, Carson Tibbels 2.

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Basketball: Dodd City holds off Slidell – Lady Hounds’ run ends in region final

Colliding Forces

COLLIDING FORCES – Slidell’s Aurora DeLuna and Sam Rambsel collide going for a loose ball during the Lady Greyhounds’ loss to Dodd City Saturday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After a slow start, the Slidell Lady Greyhounds shot their way out of an early hole and back into the game Saturday afternoon.

But second-ranked Dodd City’s size inside with the 6-1 Olivia and 6-foot Fallon Hilliard proved too much to overcome. The Hilliards combined for 26 points and 10 rebounds in leading Dodd City to the 53-38 victory over Slidell in the Class A Region III final at Mansfield High School.

“Defensively, we don’t have the size to compete with that,” said Slidell coach Lance Shelton. “The girls mixed it up well. Considering that Huckaby beat us by 10 and they beat Huckaby by 30, we’re probably a 30-40-point underdog. But with two minutes to go, we were still right there.”

Dodd City earns a trip to San Antonio and the University Interscholastic League state basketball tournament.

The loss ends Slidell’s season at 29-4. It was the third straight year that Dodd City knocked Slidell out of the playoffs.

“There’s no place I’d rather be,” Shelton said. “I wouldn’t want to be in that other locker room.”

The Lady Greyhounds struggled to keep a handle on the ball early, committing 10 turnovers in the first seven minutes. Slidell committed 25 turnovers in the game.

Falling behind by nine in the first quarter, 12-3, Slidell rallied with its perimeter shooting to pull within one, 21-20, with 2:33 left in first half. The Lady Greyhounds hit four 3-pointers – two from Kayler Talamantes – during a 12-2 run.

“We knew we had to get up as many shots up as we could. We shot really well,” Talamantes said.

In her final game, Talamantes hit five 3s and finished with 15 points.

“That was awesome for her. We’ll miss her next year,” Shelton said. “She’s a senior that can shoot the ball and played four years on varsity.”

Slidell hit 11 3-pointers and shot 39 percent (11-for-28) on the perimeter.

“We were going to have to hit a lot of 3s,” Shelton said. “We had to drive and kick. We were going to have to have wide-open layups to make anything [inside] against their size. Offensively, the whole game plan was to get it in there, kick it and shoot it.”

Dodd City built some breathing room going into halftime with a 3-pointer and layup off a steal by Lindsay Carter in the final 31 seconds of the half to put the Lady Hornets up, 28-20.

“The five points right before half hurt us,” Shelton said.

Slidell trailed by 10, 39-29, going into the fourth. Talamantes opened the final frame with a trey to pull the Lady Greyhounds within seven. They couldn’t get closer as Olivia Hilliard helped put the game away with eight points down the stretch – six inside for layups. She finished with a game-high 18.

Slidell reached the final by making an improbable comeback in the region semifinal Friday night.

The Lady Greyhounds ended the game on a 14-0 run to pull off the 35-30 victory over defending state champion Lipan.

Slidell trailed Lipan most of the game with both teams struggling to score. Lipan led 16-9 at halftime, closing the first half on a 7-0 run.

Lipan carried a 24-19 lead into the fourth quarter. Slidell was down 30-21 when Talamantes started the comeback with a 3-pointer. Bailey Meyer followed with another trey to get the deficit down to three.

Strong Season

STRONG SEASON – The Slidell Lady Greyhounds finished the season 29-4 and reached the Class A Region III final. The team celebrated with a sign in memory of late assistant Dennis Stroud. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DODD CITY 53, SLIDELL 38

Dodd City … 14 … 14 … 11 … 14 … – … 53
Slidell … 8 … 12 … 9 … 9 … – … 38

DODD CITY – Lindsay Carter 15, Paige Granstaff 3, Olivia Hilliard 18, Fallon Hilliard 8, Abby Weeks 9.

SLIDELL (29-4) – Kayler Talamantes 15, Bailey Meyer 7, Sam Rambsel 3, Aurora DeLuna 8, Cate Zuniga 5.

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Basketball: Northwest aims for first regional bid since 1994

The Northwest Texans are back in the region quarterfinal for a second straight season.

The Texans (29-4) used a big fourth quarter to put away Grapevine Friday 71-43 in the Class 5A Region I area game.

The Texans will take on Birdville Tuesday for the program’s first regional tournament appearance since 1994 at 8 p.m. at Coppell.

“It’s been over 20 years,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “It’s a huge opportunity for us.”

Birdville (24-8), the runner-up in District 8-5A, earned the trip to the third round with narrow wins over Southwest (73-72) and Denton Ryan (53-48).

Noah Wheeles has led Birdville in the two wins, averaging 18 points.

“They have experience and are well-coached,” Hatch said. “They are similar to Grapevine. They are not going to make a lot of mistakes. It’ll be a huge challenge.”

Against Grapevine, Northwest took a double-digit lead with a 20-7 run in the second quarter and broke the game open, outscoring Grapevine 24-8 in the final frame.

In their two playoff games, the Texans have outscored their opponents 42-16 in the fourth quarter.

“That’s something we’ve done most of the year. I think we wear teams down and find another level in the fourth quarter,” Hatch said.

Avery Anderson and Jordan Keyes scored 21 points each. Julien Smith added 17.

Darrell Simpson grabbed 11 boards to go along with eight points.

Northwest smashed Grapevine on the boards 41-14.

The Texans also piled up 21 assists on 27 baskets.

“We shared the ball well,” Hatch said.

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Saltillo edges Slidell, 58-56

Saltillo used a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to grab the lead and force the Slidell Greyhounds to play catch-up the rest of the way.

The Greyhounds stayed within reach until the final shot as Saltillo escaped with 58-56 victory in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at Blue Ridge High School.

The loss ends Slidell’s season at 23-10.

The game was tight throughout, tied at 14 after the first quarter and at 26 at halftime.

Slidell tried to pull away early in the third, going on a 7-2 run to take a 33-28 lead midway through the frame.

Saltillo ended the frame by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull within two, 41-39.

Saltillo pulled ahead early in the fourth and took a 50-43 lead before Slayton Pruett hit a 3-pointer to end the Saltillo run.

Colton Crane capped a 7-0 run for Slidell to tie the game at 50 with a layup with 1:40 left.

Saltillo went back in front on the next possession, and Slidell could never get back to even. Shelby Johnson’s 3-pointer with five seconds left pulled the Greyhounds within one 57-56 but couldn’t get another basket as time ran out.

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Defending champs Lincoln outlasts Decatur in OT, 61-55

The Decatur Eagles dug out of a 12-1 hole to start the game and used a one-handed jumper from Wilson Hicks and a defensive stop in the closing seconds to force overtime Tuesday night.

In the extra period, Lincoln’s Tacorian Jones’ quick hands provided the difference. The guard made a pair of steals. The second he converted into a layup and-one that put the defending 4A champions up six and on the way to the 61-55 victory in the Region II quarterfinal at Richland High School.

“We kept fighting. We never gave up. It just didn’t go our way at the end,” said Decatur senior Parker Hicks, who closed his career with 26 points and nine rebounds.

“We knew it would be tough matchup. We believed we had it. We proved it for four quarters. We just didn’t finish it in overtime. We proved we’re just as good as anyone in the state.”

Lincoln outscored Decatur 10-4 in the overtime to book a trip to the Class 4A Region II tournament at Texas A&M-Commerce Friday. Lincoln will play Paris at 8 p.m.

The loss ended the Eagles’ season at 28-8. It was also the final game for four Decatur seniors — Parker Hicks, Bryce Elder, Drew Redwine and Nick Young.

“You go and watch them play eighth-grade basketball games, and you watch them grow up and mature,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “You watch all the hard work they put into it. As bad as they are hurting, I’m hurting just as bad. It’s a hard pill to swallow that this is the last time you get to coach a group of special, special kids.”

Hicks finished the season averaging 30.3 points per game.

“There’s no better player in the state of Texas than Parker Hicks,” Coffman said.

Parker Hicks praised his teammates for the accomplishments this season.

“It was special especially being my last year at Decatur. It’s tough to go off like this,” he said. “At the same time, we can think about all the positive things we’ve done.”

With Jones’ two steals, Decatur committed four turnovers in overtime. The Eagles had 30 turnovers in the game.

“They’ve got Division I players all over the place. I don’t think it had anything to do with what we were doing,” Coffman said. “Obviously, we’d like to take care of the ball better at times. It had a lot to do with how good they are.”

Decatur had six turnovers during a six-minute scoring drought in the first quarter as Lincoln went on a 12-0 run. Dane Fitzgerald’s 3-pointer ended the dry spell and started a 8-0 spurt for Decatur.

Decatur continued the rally, tying the game at 24 with Parker Hicks’ 3-pointer and taking the lead on a free throw by Nick Young.

The Eagles held a one-point lead until Lincoln’s Devonte Reese and Kortrijk Miles hit back-to-back 3s in the final 11 seconds of the first half to take a 32-37 halftime lead.

Miles led all scorers with 21 points.

Lincoln stayed in front until Parker Hicks tied the game with a layup and-one a minute into the fourth. Decatur appeared to have grabbed a lead with three minutes to go on a Parker Hicks layup, but it was waved off by a travel call.

Decatur entered the final minute down 51-49. After a missed Lincoln free throw, sophomore Wilson Hicks hit a soft jumper to tie game with nine seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.

Wilson Hicks finished with 18 points, scoring the Eagles’ lone field goal in the overtime.

Lincoln 61, Decatur 55

Lincoln 15 17 8 11 10 – 61

Decatur 9 18 11 13 4 – 55

Lincoln – Kennedy Milton 11, Lamarsay Austin 8, Kortrijk Miles 21, Devonte Reese 6, Tacorian Jones 11, Jeremiah Whitaker 4.

Decatur (28-8) – Nick Young 1, Parker Hicks 26, Dane Fitzgerald 5, Drew Redwine 2, Wilson Hicks 18, Bryce Elder 3.

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Northwest aims for first regional bid since 1994

The Northwest Texans are back in the region quarterfinal for a second straight season.

The Texans (29-4) used a big fourth quarter to put away Grapevine Friday 71-43 in the Class 5A Region I area game.

The Texans will take on Birdville Tuesday for the program’s first regional tournament appearance since 1994 at 8 p.m. at Coppell.

“It’s been over 20 years,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “It’s a huge opportunity for us.”

Birdville (24-8), the runner-up in District 8-5A, earned the trip to the third round with narrow wins over Southwest (73-72) and Denton Ryan (53-48).

Noah Wheeles has led Birdville in the two wins, averaging 18 points.

“They have experience and are well-coached,” Hatch said. “They are similar to Grapevine. They are not going to make a lot of mistakes. It’ll be a huge challenge.”

Against Grapevine, Northwest took a double-digit lead with a 20-7 run in the second quarter and broke the game open outscoring Grapevine 24-8 in the final frame.

In their two playoff games, the Texans have outscored their opponents 42-16 in the fourth quarter.

“That’s something we’ve done most of the year. I think we wear teams down and find another level in the fourth quarter,” Hatch said.

Avery Anderson and Jordan Keyes scored 21 points each. Julien Smith added 17.

Darrell Simpson grabbed 11 boards to go along with eight points.

Northwest smashed Grapevine on the boards 41-14.

The Texans also piled up 21 assists on 27 baskets.

“We shared the ball well,” Hatch said.

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Dodd City holds off Slidell in region final

After a slow start, the Slidell Lady Greyhounds shot their way out of an early hole and back into the game Saturday afternoon.

But second-ranked Dodd City’s size inside with the 6-1 Olivia and 6-foot Fallon Hilliard proved too much to overcome. The Hilliards combined for 26 points and 10 rebounds in leading Dodd City to the 53-38 victory over Slidell in the Class A Region III final at Mansfield High School.

“Defensively, we don’t have the size to compete with that,” said Slidell coach Lance Shelton. “The girls mixed it up well. Considering that Huckaby beat us 10 and they beat Huckaby by 30, we’re probably a 30-40-point underdog. But with two minutes to go, we were still right there.”

Dodd City earns a trip to San Antonio and the University Interscholastic League state basketball tournament.

The loss ends Slidell’s season at 29-4. It was the third straight year that Dodd City knocked Slidell out of the playoffs.

“There’s no place I’d rather be,” Shelton said. “I wouldn’t want to be in that other lockerroom.”

The Lady Greyhounds struggled to keep a handle on the ball early, committing 10 turnovers in the first seven minutes. Slidell committed 25 turnovers in the game.

Falling behind by nine in the first quarter, 12-3, Slidell rallied with its perimeter shooting to pull within one, 21-20, with 2:33 left in first half. The Lady Greyhounds hit four 3-pointers – two from Kayler Talamantes – during a 12-2 run.

“We knew we had to get up as many shots up as we could. We shot really well,” Talamantes said.

In her final game, Talamantes hit five 3s and finished with 15 points.

““That was awesome for her. We’ll miss her next year,” Shelton said. “She’s a senior that can shoot the ball and played four years on varsity.”

Slidell hit 11 3-pointers and shot 39 percent (11-for-28) on the perimeter.

“We were going to have to hit a lot of 3s,” Shelton said. “We had to drive and kick. We were going to have to have wide-open layups to make anything [inside] against their size. Offensively, the whole gameplan was to get it in there, kick it and shoot it.”

Dodd City built some breathing room going into halftime with a 3-pointer and layup off a steal by Lindsay Carter in the final 31 seconds of the half to put the Lady Hornets up, 28-20.

“The five points right before half hurt us,” Shelton said.

Slidell trailed by 10, 39-29, going to the fourth. Talamantes opened the final frame with a trey to pull the Lady Greyhounds within seven. They couldn’t get closer as Olivia Hilliard helped put the game away with eight points down the stretch — six inside for layups. She finished with a game-high 18.

Dodd City 53, Slidell 38

Dodd City 14 14 11 14 – 53

Slidell 8 12 9 9 – 38

Dodd City – Lindsay Carter 15, Paige Granstaff 3, Olivia Hilliard 18, Fallon Hilliard 8, Abby Weeks 9.

Slidell (29-4) – Kayler Talamantes 15, Bailey Meyer 7, Sam Rambsel 3, Aurora DeLuna 8, Cate Zuniga 5.

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Basketball: Hicks, Eagles hang on – Senior knocks down free throws to force OT in win

The Decatur Eagles’ 15-point, second-half lead evaporated into a two-point deficit in the final 20 seconds Tuesday after Dallas Pinkston’s Antwonne Wright splashed in a corner 3-pointer.

INCHING AHEAD – Decatur’s Parker Hicks gets a shot over a Pinkston defender during the Eagles’ win Tuesdsay. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

With the season on the line, the Eagles put the ball in the hands of their senior leader Parker Hicks, who drew a foul with 6.7 seconds left. Needing both free throws to extend the game, the season and his career, Hicks drained them to force overtime.

From there Bryce Elder started a 9-2 closing run with a 3-pointer that sent the Eagles to the 66-62 victory in the 4A Region II bi-district game at Coppell High School.

“Our defensive effort slowed down at the end. It put a lot of pressure on me to save our season right there down two with 6.7 seconds and needing them both,” Hicks said. “I was able to knock them down. I thank God for everything he’s given me, including the ability to do it.”

Hicks finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds. Including the two clutch free throws to force overtime, he went 13-for-15 from the line.

“As a coach you’re at ease because that’s who you want out there. That’s who you want deciding your season because you know how much time he’s put into it,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “That’s why he steps up and makes big shots for us. It’s not the first game he’s done it.”

With the victory, Decatur advanced to the area round to play Kaufman Friday in Frisco.

“Survive and advance,” Coffman said. “It’s not going to get any easier. We’ll just go back to the drawing board and see if we can prepare ourselves for what’s to come.”

Decatur dug out of a 13-5 hole to start the game, getting the score tied in the final minute of the opening frame. But as the quarter ended, Sama’Zha Hart turned a steal into a breakaway dunk to give Pinkston a 15-13 lead.

But that would be Pinkston’s last field goal until the final minute of the half as Decatur tightened the clamps defensively in the second quarter. Decatur held Pinkston scoreless for the first 5:18 of the frame, going on a 12-0 run to take a 25-15 lead. The Eagles built a 31-18 halftime lead, despite playing the final four minutes of the half without Parker Hicks, who sat with three fouls.

“Guys like Nick Young came into the game and gave us great minutes and played their tails off,” Coffman said. “That quarter was the difference in the game.”

Decatur went up 15 early in the third quarter. Pinkston closed the quarter on a 7-2 run that was capped by a running trey at the buzzer by Larry Rusk.

MOVING ON – Decatur coaches Drew Coffman and Larry Hicks celebrate the Eagle’s win. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Pinkston kept hitting from beyond the arc in the final frame. Kendrick Williams drained three 3s in the fourth before Wright splashed in his trey to give Pinkston the late lead. Pinkston finished 10-for-26 on 3s with Williams hitting one to open overtime.

After Williams’ trey, Decatur allowed Pinkston to score only once more and went on a 7-0 run, taking a 64-60 lead when Wilson Hicks turned a quick outlet pass off an Elder rebound in traffic into a layup.

Wilson Hicks finished with 17 points. Elder had 12.

“The thing you can say most about these guys – and this wasn’t the first game this has happened – is they are resilient,” Coffman said. “Our guys have battled and battled. We played a really tough schedule, and there’s not many teams that are 26-7 after they start 3-5. That shows the character of these young men. It was on display at the end of the game.”

DECATUR 66, PINKSTON 62

Decatur … 13 … 18 … 12 … 14 … 9 … – … 66
Pinkston … 15 … 3 … 18 … 21 … 5 … – … 62

DECATUR (26-7) – Parker Hicks 35, Wilson Hicks 17, Bryce Elder 12, Dane Fitzgerald 2.

PINKSTON (16-13) – Donovan Johnson 2, Larry Rusk 10, Kendrick Williams 17, Harrington Hamm 12, Antwonne Wright 11, Donald Young 2, Sama’Zha Hart 8.

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Basketball: Carter holds off Bulls’ charge

On the Run

ON THE RUN – Bridgeport’s Andrew Horton tries to get past a Dallas Carter defender. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Playing the eighth-ranked team in 4A, Dallas Carter, the Bridgeport Bulls dug a 22-point hole going into the fourth quarter Tuesday.

The Bulls fought to claw their way back into the game, cutting the deficit to eight before Carter closed out the game. Carter went on for the 70-48 victory in the Class 4A Region II bi-district game.

TIPPING POINT – Bridgeport’s Jason Faulkenberry jumps for the ball on the opening tip of Tuesday’s bi-district game with Dallas Carter. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“Coming into the game against a good, athletic, defensive team like Carter, we knew we had to battle them on the boards and not turn it over,” said Bridgeport coach Alan Green. “We didn’t do a good job with either of those things and that was the difference in the game.

“But what I’m going to remember about tonight is the heart and fight we showed in the fourth quarter to cut it to eight after being down 22. It could have gotten to 30 or 40 like it has in the past when we played top-10 teams. But tonight it didn’t. We fought and showed great heart. If not for a couple of questionable charge calls against us in the fourth that negated points, the game could have gotten interesting.”

Bridgeport closed the season 14-19 after starting the year with just two returning varsity players.

“Going into practice the past couple of weeks and knowing that the sun was starting to set on our season, I found myself as a coach a little sad because I felt like our kids were really starting to get it and play some good ball,” Green said. “I think that was proven tonight in the fourth quarter.”

Senior Justin Meyers scored 22 points in his final game.

Jason Faulkenberry added 13.

Bridgeport trailed 31-21 at halftime. Carter built the lead to 50-28, outscoring Bridgeport 19-7 in the third.

The Bulls opened the final frame on a 15-3 run to get within 10 midway through.

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Basketball: Texans storm back to beat Sherman

The upset-minded Sherman Bearcats, the fourth seed out of 5-5A, got off to a roaring start Tuesday night in the 5A Region I bi-district game against the Northwest Texans.

But the patient, veteran Texans stayed steady and reeled in the Bearcats and finished them off with a closing 18-8 run in a 78-68 victory at Gainesville.

Northwest, ranked No. 18 in 5A, moved on to the second round to face Grapevine in Flower Mound Friday.

Jordan Keys finished with 25 points and Avery Anderson 21. Darrell Simpson added 14.

Northwest trailed 24-19 after the first quarter. Northwest slowed Sherman down in the second quarter and took a 41-38 halftime lead.

Sherman outscored Northwest 22-19 in the third to send the game to the final frame tied at 60.

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Basketball: Slidell makes regional return

A one-sided loss to Saltillo in 2014 put a quick stop to the Slidell Lady Greyhounds’ return to the playoffs after a year absence.

The area-round loss prematurely cut short Slidell’s first postseason since reaching three-straight regional tournaments to start the decade.

But playing Saltillo again didn’t get mentioned by Kaylor Talamantes, a freshman during the previous meeting, as an incentive on Tuesday.

“I think we wanted to get to the regional tournament for Coach (Dennis) Stroud,” said Talamantes, referencing the Slidell basketball assist and who died unexpectedly in September.

Sophomore Bailey Meyer had 17 points and Talamantes scored 11, as Slidell defeated Saltillo 44-37 at Trenton High School in the Class 1A Region III quarterfinal to clinch its first trip to a regional tournament since 2012.

“It means a lot to do this as seniors and to carry the young girls with us and let them experience it,” Talamates said.

Fellow senior Kayson Roof added: “It’s pretty freaking awesome. We’ve grown over the year. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Talamantes and Roof equate two of five seniors this year for Slidell.

“We have good senior leadership,” said second-year Slidell head coach Lance Shelton. “They worked hard all year. I can’t say enough about the seniors.”

The Lady Greyhounds (28-3), the District 21-A champion, played Lipan, the 18-A runner-up, on Friday at 7 p.m., in the second of two 1A Region III semifinals at Mansfield High School.

The earlier game matched district champions Huckaby and Dodd City.

Shelton, who coached Dodd City’s boys to the regional semifinals and final in 2011 and 2012, deflected credit for getting Slidell back into the regional tournament.

“They do have a great tradition here,” said Shelton, “but you have to have players to continue that. We have players.”

Tied 10-10 after one quarter, the teams each built only small leads for much of the second. Slidell freshman Aurora Deluna’s 3-pointer with 49 seconds left gave the Lady Greyhounds a 23-21 halftime lead.

Saltillo (17-5) tied the game at 23 inside the first minute of the second half on its first possession on a floater by Ana Gallegos, who had a game-high 23 points.

Slidell answered on its next possession when Meyer scored off an assist from Cate Zuniga and never trailed again.

Another Gallegos score cut the lead to 27-25, but it proved to be the next to last basket by Saltillo during the third.

Meyer answered with a 3-pointer and scored the first five points, as Slidell capitalized with a 9-0 run to build a double-digit lead at 36-25. Her other two came after driving end-to-end for a basket after grabbing a rebound.

Slidell led 37-28 entering the fourth quarter.

Talamantes’ inside drive early in the fourth regained a double-digit lead which Slidell maintained until Gallegos’ scoring-closing 3-pointer with 17.9 left.

“They were a little nervous in the first playoff game,” said Shelton. “I could tell (Monday) that they were a little more relaxed and thinking ‘Let’s go play.’ What they’ve been taught kicked in”

SLIDELL 44, SALTILLO 37

Slidell … 10 … 13 … 14 … 7 … – … 44
Saltillo … 10 … 11 … 7 … 9 … – … 37

SLIDELL (28-3) — Kayson Roof 2, Kayler Talamantes 11, Bailey Meyer 17, Sam Rambsel 7, Aurora Deluna 3, Cate Zuniga 4.

SALTILLO (17-5) — Madison Simmons 6, Ana Gallegos 23, Sienna Collins 2, Melissa Grienwald 6.

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Basketball: Greyhounds shake off slow start

Adding to Trophy Case

ADDING TO TROPHY CASE – The Slidell Greyhounds celebrate an area championship Thursday after their win over Sulphur Bluff in Trenton. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

For the first 12 minutes Thursday night, the Slidell Greyhounds looked the part of a team playing its first playoff game in two seasons after nine days off.

Slidell missed its first four shots, started 6-for-15 from the free-throw line and turned the ball over eight times in the rough beginning.

Shelby Johnson’s 3-pointer immediately followed by his drive to basket for a layup-‘and-one started an 11-0 run that allowed the Greyhounds to seize control of the game in the final three minutes of the first half. Slidell went on for the 64-47 victory over Sulphur Bluff in the Class A Region III area game at Trenton High School.

“That’s the way these playoff games are. A couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there will make a difference,” said Slidell coach Todd McCormick.

“It was the first [playoff] game. Hopefully we got that out of the way.”

Slidell (23-9) moves on to play Saltillo in the Class A Region III quarterfinal. A site and time for the matchup has not been set.

“We want some more nets,” said Johnson, referring to the net trimmed down in the post-game celebration. “We want to make that regional tournament. You never know what can happen.”

Johnson, who had 14 points, was one of four Greyhounds in double figures. Layton Shelton led the way with 19, scoring 14 in the fourth quarter. Shelton melted the game away, going 10-for-12 at the line in the final frame.

While serving as a perfect closer, Shelton had a slow start missing his first four shots and a pair of free throws. He also suffered a bloody nose that forced him to the bench for a few minutes of the first half.

“I don’t know what to say about it,” Shelton said. “I just wanted to win. It doesn’t matter as long as we win.”

After picking up his fourth foul midway through the third, Shelton stayed on the floor and took over the game late with a couple of strong drives to the basket around knocking down big free throws.

“He came back in the second half after not playing very well and had a good second half,” McCormick said.

Freshman Slayton Pruett recorded a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds. Colton Crane scored 10 off the bench.

Slidell fell behind 5-0 to start the game and trailed until the run to close the first half. Sulphur Bluff opened the game red hot from the perimeter, hitting six of its 12 3-point attempts in the first half.

“Sulphur Bluff, from everything we’ve seen from them, start off pretty strong, and they did that again,” McCormick said. “We hoped we could match it, and unfortunately we didn’t.”

Slidell curtailed Sulphur Bluff’s offense over the final half of the second quarter, holding it to just two points after Jaden Goldsmith’s 3-pointer with just more than four minutes left in the frame.

Slidell kept the pressure on in the third quarter, holding Sulphur Bluff to 3-for-10 shooting and forcing six turnovers. The Greyhounds outscored Sulphur Bluff 16-3 in the frame, building a 44-31 lead.

“We kept fighting and stuck to the gameplan,” Johnson said.

Fighting TRaffic

FIGHTING TRAFFIC – Slidell’s Layton Shelton takes the ball to the basket in the win over Sulphur Bluff. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

SLIDELL 64, SULPHUR BLUFF 47

Slidell … 11 … 20 … 13 … 20 … – … 64
Sulphur Bluff … 13 … 12 … 6 … 16 … – … 47

SLIDELL (23-9) – Layton Shelton 19, Ben McCasland 2, Jesse Tijerina 3, Slayton Pruett 10, Shelby Johnson 14, Colton Crane 10, Walker Gladden 6.

SULPHUR BLUFF – Tuner South 8, Ky Rochelle 1, Isaac Foley 9, Brennon Seymour 11, Trayton South 2, Jaden Goldsmith 10, Jacob Watts 2, Joe Forshee 4.

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Improbable comeback pushes Slidell into region final

Midway through the fourth quarter Friday, the Slidell Lady Greyhounds trailed by nine and were on the verge of seeing their magical season cut short.

The Lady Greyhounds then came alive, ending the game on a 14-0 run to pull off the improbable 35-30 victory over defending state champion Lipan in the Class A Region III semifinal at Mansfield High School.

With the victory, Slidell moves on to the region final at 2 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 Dodd City. Slidell has lost to Dodd City in the past two postseasons.

Slidell trailed Lipan most of the game with both teams struggling to score. Lipan led 16-9 at halftime, closing the first half on a 7-0 run.

Lipan carried a 24-19 lead into the fourth quarter. Slidell was down 30-21 when Kayler Talamantes started the comeback with a 3-pointer. Bailey Meyer followed with another trey to get the deficit down to three.

Slidell never stopped with Talamantes pushing the Lady Greyhounds ahead and onto Saturday.

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Decatur shoots down Kaufman, 102-37

Kaufman started the game hoping to slow the Decatur Eagles and set a deliberate pace.

The strategy worked — almost four minutes.

Decatur’s scorching-hot shooting quickly brought to rest any hopes of Kaufman putting the brakes on the game. The Eagles hit seven of their first 11 shots and raced to a double-digit lead in the first quarter. Decatur shot 63 percent (35-for-55) in establishing a season-high in points in the 102-37 Class 4A Region II area victory over Kaufman at Frisco Independence.

“We came out and shot the ball well. When we play like that we’re going to be hard to beat,” said Decatur senior Parker Hicks. “They tried to slow it down at the beginning, but once we took the lead we took it from there. We knew once we got the lead they couldn’t play slow anymore to catch up.”

With the victory, Decatur reaches a region quarterfinal for a second straight year. The Eagles will take on defending 4A state champion Dallas Lincoln at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Richland High School.

“It’s a huge hurdle — the defending state champion that has four starters back,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “It’ll definitely be a difficult challenge. But if you want to be the best, you have to go up against the best and beat the best. This will be next step.”

Decatur fell in the region quarterfinal in 2016, 2014 and 2007.

“It’s been since 2003 that Decatur has been to the regional tournament. We’re trying to be that first team to get over that hump,” Hicks said.

Hicks finished with 44 points and 14 rebounds. After hitting his fifth 3-pointer, Hicks and the rest of the starters sat the final four minutes as the Decatur reserves tossed in the final 10 points to get over the century-mark.

Ten different Eagles scored with Wilson Hicks adding 17 and Bryce Elder 14.

“We really played well. I kidded earlier that we shot the lights out during school. We just carried it over to Frisco,” said Coffman, referring to the power outage at Decatur High School during the day Friday.

Decatur knocked down 13 3-pointers, hitting at 59 percent (13-for-22) from beyond the arc.

“A lot that had to do with our ball movement. We got good looks because our guys made the extra pass,” Coffman said. “They turned down the good shot to get the great shot.”

Among the 3-pointers were two buzzer beaters. Drew Redwine made a steal near midcourt and then banked in a running 3 at the halftime buzzer to put Decatur up 45-16.

To close the third off an inbound play, Dane Fitzgerald hit a 3-pointer from halfcourt to send Decatur into the final frame up 75-23.

“People don’t believe me but we practice two half-court shots every game day,” Coffman said. “This is the first time they actually went in.”

Decatur seized control of the game in final four minutes of the first quarter, going on a 15-3 run.

The Eagles extended the run to 30-5, building a 35-10 lead on Parker Hicks’ layup with 3:04 left in the first half.

Decatur 102, Kaufman 37

Kaufman 8 8 7 14 – 37

Decatur 20 25 30 27 – 102

Kaufman (21-10) — Spencer Davis 6, Trey Collier 6, Connor Smith 3, Drey Banks 2, Dylan Gunter 4, Will Sisson 16.

Decatur (28-7) — Parker Hicks 44, Dane Fitzgerald 3, Drew Redwine 9, Wilson Hicks 17, Bryce Elder 14, Sergio Sanchez 2, John Johnson 5, Gage Rieger 3, Drew Langto 3, Carson Tibbels 2.

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