BULLARD -- There are a lot of moving parts in the District 16-4A race and quite a few outcomes for the league's middle pack.

Bullard will be able to breathe a bit easier during the weekend after an important 59-46 win against Chapel Hill in front of a friendly packed house. The victory broke a tie for third place with just three games remaining in the regular season.

"We were tied with Chapel Hill at 3-3 and the win puts us in third alone with a 4-3 league record," Panthers head coach Shane Chambless said. "We've got three games left to put us in a better seed, but that was big. It went a long way toward getting us in the playoffs. We're not there yet, but it's a big step for us."

Major Tennison goes up around Chapel Hill's Kris Davis for a basket in as part of his eight-point fourth quarter for Bullard. Tennison finished the game with 16 points and two blocks. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Chambless' squad broke a tough two-game losing skid. It fell to Gilmer on Jan. 30, 59-52, and then was edged by Spring Hill earlier this week, 45-42, to fall from 3-1 in the league.

The important matchup got off to a great start for Bullard (9-15, 4-3).

Senior point guard Andrew Thomas recovered an opening tip won by Chapel Hill at mid court and drove in for an uncontested basket three seconds into the game. That, along with a 3-pointer from junior guard Marquis Allen, spurred a 7-2 run through the first three minutes of action.

Thomas led the way for the Panthers with 21 points, nine rebounds, three steals and a block.

He was only outdone on the scoreboard by a strong solo performance from Chapel Hill's Andrew Anderson. The junior forward put up 26 points in the game and gave the Bulldogs (8-15, 3-4) a needed lift for a manageable 24-19 halftime deficit.

"Anderson is a very good player," Thomas said. "He's got a really long body and a real quick, pull up jump shot that's hard to get to and get a block. He's a great player and was a great matchup tonight. That's the kind of matchup I want."

Andrew Anderson fights off Bullard's leading scorer Andrew Thomas in the second quarter of Friday's game. Anderson scored a game-best 26 points for Chapel Hill. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

But as Anderson continued to make his case for Friday's most valuable player through the second half, Bullard's scoring trickled down the roster.

Allen notched his second and final 3-point score to cap the Panthers' first possession of the second half and then closed a 10-3, five-minute run with a steal-and-score as part of a larger 18-9 win in the third quarter.

Bullard led 42-28 after three periods.

Anderson scored nine points in the fourth quarter for Chapel Hill, but Thomas and sophomore center Major Tennison took the Panthers to the finish line.

Tennison scored eight of his 16 points in the final period, including 4-for-4 free throw shooting in the bonus. Thomas added seven late points as the duo combined for 15 points of a 17-point quarter.

Tennison also recorded two blocks and three boards in the game.

"This does a lot for us," Tennison said. "Chapel Hill has a good team. They always do. A lot of skill and a lot of speed. It's just good to get the W, especially at home in front of a great student section and crowd. That meant a lot."

While Bullard held onto third place, Kilgore upped its district record lead to 6-1 with a win against Spring Hill. Second-place Gilmer roughed up Gladewater, 81-54, to keep one game ahead of the Panthers with a 5-2 record.

Thomas, Tennison and the squad have the opportunity to advance significantly with head-to-head wins and help. Two of its final three games are against the leading district teams. It starts with a road game at Kilgore on Tuesday.

Chapel Hill remained one game ahead of Gladewater by nature of Gilmer's win. Spring Hill fell to 1-6 in the district.

The Bulldogs will host Gladewater on Tuesday in one of the most important regional games on the slate. Gladewater, which defeated Chapel Hill last month, could earn the fourth-place tiebreaker with a win.

"We definitely have some confidence," Chambless said. "Tuesday was probably as low as we've been this district season. We bounce back tonight with a huge win and led by double digits for a big amount of the game. I think our confidence has to be high." 

William Baker attempts to go up and around Chapel Hill's Jeffrey Minor in the Panthers 59-46 win Friday. The victory gave Bullard sole possession of third place in the league. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Bullard 59, Chapel Hill 46

District 16-4A Boys Basketball
At Bullard High School, Bullard

Chapel Hill                8    11      9    18    --    46
Bullard                    10    14    18    17    --    59
CHAPEL HILL (8-15, 3-4) -- Andrew Anderson 26; Kris Davis 7; Jeffrey Minor 7; Austin Fendrick 6.
BULLARD (9-15, 4-3) -- Andrew Thomas 21; Major Tennison 16; Marquis Allen 8; Kirby Christopher 6; William Baker 4; Mikah Hughes 2; Ty Williams 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Chapel Hill: Anderson. Bullard: Marquis Allen (2), Kirby Chirstopher.