Wildcat Gymnasium was totally packed on Friday night when the Hugo Buffaloes came to town to face the No. 18-ranked Paris Wildcats of Class 4A. The gym was not only full capacity, but was full of energy from both teams and their fanbases. The electric atmosphere set up for a game that lived up to the hype.
Both Paris and Hugo battled it out in a close contest throughout, until Paris was able to pull away in the third quarter. Hugo would not go away as the Buffaloes made it interesting in the fourth, but Paris made a few more clutch plays down the stretch, holding off Hugo for a thrilling 77-65 win.
“We just picked up our energy and intensity a lot, and we played with a lot of energy on defense,” Wildcats senior Gavyn Hollje said. “We didn’t let them (Hugo) stop us, and every time we scored we were able to shut them down. It was a good game, it was an exciting game and I love competitive games — it was fun.”
The Wildcats’ defense tightened up in the second half after Hugo took a 31-28 lead at the half. From there, Paris made a key adjustment in attacking the painted area, led by Paris’ 6-foot-5 sophomore Jaelyn Lee, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the third quarter.
“We talked about getting the ball more in the paint at halftime,” Paris head basketball coach Billy Mack Steed said. “In one of our offensive sets, we scored or they fouled every possession but two, and those two possessions we took quick three’s. We focused on pounding the ball inside, and it worked well for us in the second half.”
Lee drew a foul after laying the ball in the hoop with 7:18 left in the third, but missed the free throw to cut the deficit to 31-30. Hugo senior William King drove hard to the basket and finished a nifty left-handed layup over Paris’ senior defender and paint-protector Trevon Dennis with 7:09 left in the quarter to extend the lead back to 33-30. From there, however, it was all Paris for the remainder of the quarter.
The ’Cats closed the quarter on a 21-2 scoring run to take a commanding 51-35 lead into the fourth quarter. Despite Hugo’s ability to match Paris with speed, skill, strength and athleticism, the Wildcats raised their game to another level to get the separation they needed.
“I’ve said it once before, we’re trying to go to state,” Paris senior Trevon Dennis said. “I’ve played AAU all summer, I’m used to this type of competition. I know I can play well in good games, and my teammates do as well. We all had that energy that we came into the game with. I’m happy we got the win.”
The Buffaloes charged back by outscoring Paris 19-9 to start the fourth quarter, capped off by a put-back layup from Hugo with 3:09 left. Before that, Wildcats senior guard Jameon Mitchell came up with two big plays — a charge with 4:45 left and a clutch 3-pointer with 4:35 left to keep Hugo at bay when the team was making its run.
King kept his team in the game late, as he buried four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter — the last coming with 1:36 left to cut the deficit to 67-61. However, Paris kept pushing even when Hugo’s offense and defense tightened up.
“At the end when they (Hugo) were putting a lot of pressure on us, our kids did a good job of attacking their press,” Steed said. “We didn’t just settle for getting it across half court, we attacked the rim and got a bunch of layups out of it. I thought our kids played really well against a solid team — Hugo is good.”
Dennis made a put-back layup with 1:22 left in regulation, Mitchell added two free throws with 1:05 remaining and Hollje added a reverse layup on the break off a defensive stop with 55 seconds to go to extend Paris’ lead to 73-61, essentially putting the game out of reach for Hugo.
Lee scored a team-high 18 points for Paris, while Dennis and senior guard Trae Johnson each finished with 15 points. Hollje added 12 points, while Mitchell recorded 11 points.
King led Hugo with a game-high 22 points, while Donte’ Shanklin scored 11 points for the Buffaloes.
The Wildcats will play on their home floor again throughout the 10th Annual Paris Holiday Tournament from Thursday through Saturday, beginning with their opening game of pool play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against North Forney.
Hugo looks to bounce back in the Idabel Tournament from Thursday through Saturday.
Hugo scorers: W. King 22; D. Shanklin, 11; K. Akins, 9; B. Benson, 8; T. Brown, 7; K. Jackson, 4; J. Barker, 2; M. Lennox, 2
Paris scorers: J. Lee, 18; T. Dennis, 15; T. Johnson, 15; G. Hollje, 12; J. Mitchell, 11; Z. Jackson, 4; B. Gray, 2
Hugo FGM: W. King, 8; K. Akins, 4; D. Shanklin, 4; B. Benson, 3; K. Jackson, 2; T. Brown, 1; M. Lennox, 1
Paris FGM: J. Lee, 6; T. Dennis, 5; T. Johnson, 5; G. Hollje, 4; Z. Jackson, 2; J. Mitchell, 2; B. Gray, 1
Hugo 3PFGM: W. King, 5; K. Akins, 1; B. Benson, 1; D. Shanklin, 1
Paris 3PFGM: J. Mitchell, 2; G. Hollje, 1
Hugo FT: 11-for-24; T. Brown, 5-8; J. Barker, 2-2; D. Shanklin, 2-3; B. Benson, 1-1; W. King, 1-9; K. Jackson, 0-1
Paris FT: 24-for-37; J. Lee, 6-9; T. Johnson, 5-7; T. Dennis, 5-8; J. Mitchell, 5-8; G. Hollje, 3-3; Z. Jackson, 0-2
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