The Chisum Mustangs managed to fend off the Bells Panthers at Saturday’s bi-district game, taking home their first playoff win in 15 years.
“It was a back and forth battle,” Brian Temple, the head boys basketball coach at Chisum High School. “I couldn’t be more proud of how they competed.”
In a close game, the Mustangs beat the Panthers 59-48 on Saturday at the Honey Grove gym.
It was a tug-of-war game, with both teams matching each other point for point until Chisum started pulling ahead late in the second quarter. At the end of the first half, the Mustangs were in the lead, 29-23.
Coming back from the locker room, the Panthers scored six points back to back, determined to close the gap, bringin the score 34-32, still in favor of the Mustangs. After that, Zaquavious Price, number 2, made three attempts at stealing the ball and moving down the court before he finally scored two more points, breaking the Panthers’ streak.
The game returned to back and forth scoring. At the 2:25 mark in the third quarter, after a Bells player was fouled and scored no points, the Mustangs tossed the ball back and forth, dodging the Panthers defense, until Price spotted a gap and charged in attempting a layup. The play didn’t score, but Brayden Brown rebounded for two points.
Brown was also fouled by the Panthers, but missed the shot, bringing the score 38-34, with Chisum barely ahead.
The quarter ended 40-36 in favor of Chisum. Going into the fourth, the Mustangs sought a firmer grasp on their lead.
The Panthers fouled Keaston Lawrence, who scored one point, and then Price made another two points after Levi Weems smoothly tapped the ball out of the Panther player’s hands mid-court and tossed it to Price, pushing the Mustang’s lead, 42-36.
The Mustangs fouled one of the Panthers’ defensive players, who made two smooth foul shots, and Evan Wood responded with another two points. From then, the Panthers matched the Mustangs basket for basket but couldn’t actually pull ahead, with the score 49-39 in Chisum’s favor.
At the 1:15 mark, Lawrence swooped in over a missed inbound pass and sailed down the court for a layup, putting the score at 54-45.
With a little less than a minute on the clock, the Panthers fouled Wood, who missed both shots. Price then rebounded and tossed the ball down the court to Wood for two more points.
After one 3-point shot at 34 seconds, the Panthers couldn’t score anything else, while Chisum took three foul shots, ending the game 59-48.
"If we can hold opponents under 50 points, we have the ability to win some games," Temple said. "Because our offense can really put up points."
Price, Lawrence and Wood were the three standouts this game, Temple said.
“These three did a fantastic job,” he said.
Wood provided not just some strong offense, but stellar defense as well, locking down Bells' top scoring threat, and one of the best scorers in 3A basketball.
"I can't say enough about the defensive effort tonight," Temple said. "This guy is 6'4" and a talented scorer, and we held him to two free throws in the first half."
With the win, the Mustangs shake the proverbial monkey off their back that came with having gone 15 years without a bi-district win.
"It's a great feeling," the head coach said. "I couldn't be prouder of these guys. We've had our ups and downs but they always persevered.
"A lot of the guys said after the game that this was their favorite game they've ever been a part of, and I'm just just so happy for each of them."