Frantic Finish Not Enough For Martin’s Mill In State Semifinal Loss To Canadian
SAN ANTONIO -- Martin's Mill's fans waited a long time to blow the roof off of the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Their opportunity finally came out of a Mustangs' timeout with 4:49 to play. The team had never led in the game but it entered the break on an 8-1 run, giving promise the season was not going to end in Friday's Class 2A state semifinal game against Canadian.
Martin's Mill had faced a 19-point second half deficit at its worst. Aided by a huge swing in momentum, it clawed within three points in the final 69 seconds before falling 68-62.
"You dig yourself into a 15-point hole, time is definitely the enemy," Martin's Mill head coach Trae Moore said in the postgame conference. "We didn't have enough. They did a good job fighting back. We just didn't have enough time."
Give credit where credit is due.
No. 7 Canadian (20-1) came out of the gates red hot, built up a seemingly insurmountable lead and then shot 11-for-12 from the free throw line in the final moments to salvage a trip into Saturday's state championship game against Dallardsville Big Sandy.
No. 2 Martin's Mill finished its year with a 33-5 record and its third appearance at the state level in a decade. For the second consecutive year, however, East Texas will go without a boys' state championship.
Friday's game provided two interesting storylines.
On the heels of Martin's Mill's girls state championship last week, the Mustangs were hoping to give the town a clean sweep of titles at the 2A level. If they had accomplished that, the school would have become only the eighth in state history to win the girls and boys titles in the same season.
Canadian, from 100 miles northeast of Amarillo, is seeking to become just the seventh school in the state to win both a basketball championship and a football championship in an academic year.
"There's nothing I'm more proud of than my team right now," senior forward Hunter Conway said. "We had a great season."
A great ending to the season seemed a lot less likely early in the game.
Canadian jumped out to a 8-0 lead, including opening 3-pointers from Cameron Copley and Ethan Lusk. Martin's Mill got to within 17-14 at the end of the quarter, but it trailed by 15 at halftime and shot 36.4 percent from the field in the half.
The Mustangs got to the state tournament with strong shooting. Struggles continued on the other side of the break.
Martin's Mill's crowd was ready to cut loose every time a Mustang got an open look. Yet Canadian had a 19-point lead two and a half minutes into the second half and closed the third period with a 49-36 advantage.
The fourth period began with another Lusk 3-pointer. Then it all turned around.
Davis Moore finally got the town on its feet with a trey of his own, Canadian hit the back end of a set of free throws and junior Logan Jenkins came back down and hit all three free throw attempts after drawing a foul.
A 10-1 run was capped by back-to-back jumpers from Davis More to bookend the pivotal timeout, down 53-44 with 5:07 left to play.
With its lead more than halfway gone, Canadian began to ride the ropes home. It stalled at the top of the offensive zone and danced around several steal attempts in the final seconds above the three-minute mark.
Colton Wilson drew the team's eighth foul of the half, and Martin's Mill fouled to stop the clock on each subsequent Canadian possession.
Wilson hit a 3-pointer after taking the foul to make it a 57-51 game. Conway then got a layup and followed it up with a 3-pointer after two more Canadian free throws to make it a five-point game at the 1:36 mark.
Canadian missed its only free throw of the 11-for-12 stretch a few seconds later and Wilson made them pay with another shot from behind the arc to make it a three-point game.
Unfortunately, after two more Canadian free throws, Martin's Mill missed a 3-point attempt with 39 seconds left and lost the rebound. That was enough for Canadian to put the game out of reach with two more free throws.
"We were pretty unfamiliar with them," Canadian head coach Andy Copley said. "Everything were heard about them was how great they were. And they're a great team. Getting up early and quick was really big for our kids. It gave them just a little bit of confidence."
The words "great team" triggered consensus nods from the three players on the podium.
Cameron Copley led Canadian with 22 points. He was one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double.
Davis Moore finished with a game-best 23 points for Martin's Mill. Jenkins scored 14 points. They're two of nine varsity players returning next season from the team's expanded playoff roster.
Other key headliners did indeed play their final games. Conway, Wilson, Drew Ingram and Dylan Weatherford will graduate in May.
"It's hard for these guys," Trae Moore said. "We didn't come down to lose today."
No. 7 Canadian 68, No. 2 Martin's Mill 62
Boys Class 2A Region State Semifinal
At The Alamodome, San Antonio
Martin's Mill 14 9 13 26 -- 62
Canadian 17 21 11 19 -- 70
MARTIN'S MILL (33-5) -- Davis Moore 23; Logan Jenkins 14; Hunter Conway 9; Drew Ingram 8; Colton Wilson 6; Dylan Weatherford 2.
CANADIAN (20-1) -- Cameron Copley 22; Ethan Lusk 15; Braiden Galla 12; Tanner Schafer 10; Sawyer Cook 9.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Martin's Mill: Moore (5), Jenkins (2), Ingram (2), Wilson (2), Conway. Canadian: Lusk (3), Copley (2), Galla (2).