TYLER -- When the Athens Hornets needed to close the door, they turned to senior standout guard Anthony Sanders.

Sanders had 31 points, 11 rebounds, eight steals and four assists to lead the 23rd-ranked Hornets to a 82-72 win over Whitehouse in the Gold Bracket championship game at the Wagstaff Holiday Classic on Saturday night.

Whitehouse's Jake Parker works his way around the Athens defense during their game Saturday night at the Wagstaff Holiday Classic in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

The win continued an impressive non-district run for Athens (15-1), which has beaten several Class 4A teams, including John Tyler twice, Corsicana and Jacksonville.

"It's an elite tournament and we basically played in it to get ready for district," said Athens coach Gerald Anthony. "We've basically just been playing 4A's, so it's going to help."

Athens, which led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, had to hold off Whitehouse (13-4) down the stretch after the Wildcats cut the lead to four points with less than two minutes remaining. But Sanders scored putbacks on consecutive possessions to build the lead back up to eight and finished his night by converting a traditional three-point play in the closing seconds.

"Once he gets rolling we play at another level," Coach Anthony said of Sanders.

Ryan Jefferson added 18 points and four rebounds, while Courtland Lyons chipped in with 14 points and five assists for Athens.

Athens' Courtland Lyons works with the ball during the Hornets' 82-72 win over Whitehouse in the Gold Bracket championship game of the Wagstaff Holiday Classic on Saturday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"When I turn on, the other team's knows it and they try to trap me," Sanders said. "But what they don't know is we've got other people just like me that can finish the ball. If they come trap me, then it's a done deal."

Spencer Shaw led Whitehouse with 21 points. Brady Hill posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Jake Parker nearly pulled off a triple-double by finishing with 13 points, 13 boards and nine assists. Jaylon Dews added 11 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Lyons had 10 points in the third quarter as Athens took a 62-51 lead into the fourth. Parker sank a pair of free throws with 3:32 remaining to cut Whitehouse's deficit to 68-64. After a Jefferson basket increased the Athens lead back to six, Parker assisted a Dews bucket to cut the lead to 70-66 with less than three minutes to go.

Athens was able to break the Whitehouse press, leading to Sanders' back-to-back putbacks, the second of which gave the Hornets a 76-68 lead with 46 seconds remaining.

The Hornets return to action next Saturday at home against Mexia, while Whitehouse hosts Lufkin on Tuesday.

Athens' Anthony Sanders hoists the trophy after the Hornets' 82-72 win over Whitehouse in the Gold Bracket championship game of the Wagstaff Holiday Classic on Saturday in Tyler. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

No. 23 Athens 82, Whitehouse 72

Wagstaff Holiday Classic

Gold Bracket Championship

At Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gym

Whitehouse              15   17   19   21   --   72
Athens                     24   16   22   20   --   82
WHITEHOUSE (13-4) -- Spencer Shaw, 21; Brady Hill, 19; Jake Parker, 13; Jaylon Dews, 11; Jacob Lundmark, 4; Isaiah Clark, 2; Bryce Hand, 2.
ATHENS (15-1) -- Anthony Sanders, 31; Ryan Jefferson, 18; Courtland Lyons, 14; Josh Garrett, 7; Chris Jefferson, 6; Kynden Crist, 4; Chris Givens, 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Whitehouse: Parker (2), Shaw (2). Athens: Sanders, Jefferson, Lyons.