Hot Three-Point Shooting Vaults Grapeland Past LaPoynor + Into State Tournament
TYLER -- When Grapeland has its shooting touch from the outside, there isn't much the opponent can do. Ask LaPoynor.
The second-ranked Sandies connected on 12 3-pointers and pulled away for a 85-71 win over LaPoynor on Saturday in their Class A Division I Region III championship game at Wagstaff Gym.
Grapeland (33-4) advanced to next week's state basketball tournament in Austin and will face an undetermined opponent at either 8:30 or 10 a.m. Thursday from the University of Texas' Frank Erwin Center in a 1A D-I state semifinal.
The Sandies broke open what was a three-point game at halftime by knocking down four 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ended with Grapeland holding a 59-52 lead. That came after a first half that included eight made shots from long range.
"We love to run and gun, and we're going to shoot the ball," said Grapeland coach Owen Clifton. "I feel like we have four or five good 3-point shooters. On the season, we're 35 percent as a team and that's pretty good. If we have an open shot, I think it's going in every time and they do too. That's the difference; they will that ball in the hole and they shoot the ball really well. A couple of close games we've had this year we all got cold, but that doesn't happen very much when you've got four or five shooters."
Jacolby Simpson made seven 3-pointers on the night and finished with 24 points. Patrick Walker led Grapeland with 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Walker made three 3's and was also 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in fourth quarter, helping Grapeland finish 19-of-24 from the line for the game.
"He's our guy," Clifton said of Walker. "He's been here four years in a row, and I can't think of anyone except my seniors that deserve it more. We've been here, they did it and they did a great job. Patrick was huge for us, he played within himself, got his teammates open. I was proud of the way he played."
Dominic DeCello had the other two Grapeland 3-pointers and finished with 10 points and three assists.
LaPoynor (31-5) was led by James Jackson, who came off the bench to score 19 points, grab eight rebounds and assist on two baskets. Octavius Crear added 19 points as well, while Mason Motal chipped in with 13 points and nine boards.
Crear's 3-pointer tied the game at 41-41 just 13 seconds into the third quarter, but Grapeland turned it up after that. Simpson's consecutive treys gave the Sandies a 50-43 lead with 4:59 remaining in the third, and two more 3's -- by Walker and DeCello -- and a traditional 3-point play from John McKnight increased Grapeland's lead to 59-50 late in the quarter.
"(LaPoynor) did a great job in the first half, and we had to make some adjustments," Clifton said. "I thought Jacolby kept us in the game, hitting those big 3-pointers for us. We did a good job inside on their bigs. They wanted it and it showed, just determination. I was proud of them."
Grapeland effectively put the game out of reach by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter. A Demetri Walker layup, Patrick Walker basket and Demetri Walker 3-point play increased the Sandies' advantage to 66-52 with 5:58 remaining.
LaPoynor raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Grapeland proceeded to go on a 16-0 spurt to go up 20-11 late in the period. Simpson had eight points, Jaques Faulk had six and Patrick Walker hit a basket during the pivotal stretch.
The Flyers crept back into the game in the second quarter, taking a 32-31 lead on a Jackson layup with 3:28 remaining in the half. But Simpson and DeCello came up big form 3-point range yet again, and helped Grapeland into halftime with a 41-38 lead.
No. 2 Grapeland 85, No. 6 LaPoynor 71
Boys Class A Division I Region III Championship
At Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gym
LaPoynor 13 25 14 19 -- 71
Grapeland 20 21 18 26 -- 85
LaPOYNOR (31-5) -- Octavius Crear, 19; James Jackson, 19; Mason Motal, 13; Colton Clair, 9; JaCorey Williams, 4; Lane McClelland, 3; Wade Lang, 2; Xavier Oliver, 2.
GRAPELAND (33-4) -- Patrick Walker, 29; Jacolby Simpson, 24; Dominic DeCello, 10; Jaques Faulk, 8; Demetri Walker, 6; William Whitehead, 5; John McKnight, 3.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- LaPoynor: Clair, Crear, McClelland. Grapeland: Simpson (7), Walker (3), DeCello (2).