Huge Comeback Lifts Whitehouse Boys Over Texas High In Bi-District Round
TATUM -- Whitehouse rallied from a 17-point deficit midway through the third quarter of its Class 5A bi-district playoff game to stun Texas High, 78-75, Tuesday at Tatum High School.
Slow and steady won the race, an insult to the Wildcats' 57 percent shooting in any other contest.
"We knew they were going to stop making all those shots," junior Wildcats forward Ryan Walls, who scored a game-high 24 points, said. "Their percentage was going to go down. We were going to start hitting shots and start believing we could win."
Teams at all levels know they have to ride out streaky scoring, but Whitehouse (21-11) shot above 50 percent all night. It easily could have been Walls' squad leveling off alongside the Tigers (19-9).
The Wildcats' issues en route to a 60-43 third quarter deficit weren't even egregious. They simply committed 10 turnovers and missed a few more shots to dig themselves into the enormous hole.
It was just that Texas High only committed one turnover in the first act, and it came via an offensive foul.
But something had to give for Walls and company to save their season following an 11-2 Texas High run for the game's largest lead.
Javier Neal and Walls both recorded two steals in the second half as part of the team's six total takeaways after the break. The Tigers gave away three more possessions on unforced errors.
It was just enough to undue the Tigers' respectable 5-for-9 shooting after they took their largest lead and a borderline adequate overall day of 11-for-19 from the free throw line.
"Our kids, they never quit," Wildcats head coach Brent Kelly said. "We went small and I thought that affected T-High a little bit. Our zone created some turnovers. We got some rebounds we hadn't been getting and we finally got a string of stops. Then, offensively, that's the best we've played all year. We knew it was going to take that to beat Texas High."
Whitehouse, the three-seed from District 16-5A, faced a more manageable 60-54 disadvantage entering the fourth quarter following an 11-0 counter run, and Walls' basket right off Ashton Melton's steal early in the fourth quarter got the team within one possession.
The team wasted its next two possessions -- one following a still rare Texas High turnover -- with one-pop-shots in search of the tie and then missed two free throws.
Walls finally knotted the game with his fourth of six treys at the 5:44 mark. The lead shifted seven times down the stretch.
Jaylen Rhone put Texas High, the District 15-5A two-seed, back in position to win on a 3-pointer of his own with 25.7 seconds remaining. A 75-73 lead.
Justus Carnahan earned three points the old fashioned way six seconds later.
Texas High milked the clock down to eight seconds before executing a potentially game-winning play. Whitehouse drew a charge in the lane with 5.3 seconds left.
The Wildcats called their final timeout of the game just before getting whistled for a five-second violation. Texas High, working against the double bonus, bailed them out with a foul before the inbound pass retry.
Carnahan hit two free throws at the other end of the court and the Tigers' last shot of the season was well off the mark.
"That's definitely No. 1," Carnahan said of the win. "Definitely No. 1. I have not been a part of anything like this in all my four years."
The 3-point shot wasn't just a part of the comeback story. It was largely the game's story.
Texas High hit nine treys in the first half. All five starters had at least one score from distance by the end of the first quarter to make Whitehouse's six 3-pointers before the break seem small.
The Tigers finished with 12 treys yet Walls led all distance shooters when it was all said and done. Whitehouse as a team made 11 shots from range.
Behind Walls, Neal put up 18 points in the win in addition to nine rebounds and Carnahan recorded 17 points to headline five other scorers.
Rhone's 18 points led Texas High. Vonderic Stanley added 14 points and Lavon Brown added 11 to round out all scorers in double figures.
Texas High will graduate five of its players in May. Stanley and Brown return to the team next season.
Whitehouse faces Lancaster later this week in the area round. Lancaster won the Class 5A state championship last season.
"I have not even thought about them," Kelly said. "Texas High was really good. They've been playing well lately. I tell our kids we've been playing really well lately, too."
Whitehouse 78, Texas High 75
Boys Class 5A Bi-District Game
At Tatum High School
Whitehouse 21 15 18 24 -- 78
Texas High 24 24 12 15 -- 75
WHITEHOUSE (20-11) -- Ryan Walls 24, Javier Neal 18, Justus Carnahan 17, Colby Duhon 8, McKade Marquis 6, Isiah Clark 2, Ashton Melton 2, Zach Parker 2.
TEXAS HIGH (19-9) -- Jaylen Rhone 18, Vonderic Stanley 14, Lavon Brown 11, Curtis Crump 8, Jacoryon Larry 8, Quan Hampton 7, Janiro Lane 6, R.J. Reid 3.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Whitehouse: Walls (6), Carnahan (3), Marquis (2). Texas High: Rhone (4), Hampton (2), Larry (2), Stanley (2), Brown, Lane.