LUFKIN -- Tatum players knew Kountze could be beaten. The Eagles proved that with a win over the Class 2A giant in early December.

Third-ranked Tatum made believers out of everyone again Friday night -- this time on a much bigger stage in front of a much larger audience, shocking No. 1 Kountze, 60-49, in a 2A Region III area-round playoff at Angelina College's Shands Gymnasium.

Tatum (29-9) used a huge third quarter to build a nine-point lead, and closed out Kountze (32-4) with a 9-0 run after the Lions cut it to two with 2:44 remaining.

"To beat No. 1 ... in 2A-3A basketball Kountze is a dang dynasty," said Tatum coach Brett Carr. "All (we've) heard from people outside of Tatum is that 'y'all can't them.' But our kids, they believed they could do it. I think our kids always believe they can get it done."

Tatum's Robbie Rockwell (left) works his way around he Kountze defense during their area-round playoff Friday night in Lufkin (© Christopher R. Vinn/

The win advanced Tatum to the regional quarterfinals where it will face Crockett next week with a spot at the regional tournament on the line.

Senior guard Javolick Garrett led Tatum with 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

"He had to play a lot of minutes, but he's our guy and he got it done," Carr said of Garrett. "It was on his shoulders, he knew that. What do you say? I mean the kid's a competitor."

The 6-1 Garrett scored 11 points and pulled down six boards in the third quarter when Tatum outscored Kountze, 24-10, to enter the fourth quarter with a 45-37 lead.

Garrett's heroic effort helped Tatum overcome a rough shooting performance.

Junior Robbie Rockwell, who hit 11 3-pointers in the Eagles' bi-district win on Tuesday, managed just two 3's on the night. Tatum made only four from long-range for the game, and was just 12-of-25 from the free-throw line.

"I had to give a 110-percent effort," Garrett said. "My team needed me, they called on me and I had to be a leader. That's a big accomplishment in my life. I've never lost to Kountze, and I wasn't about to."

While Garrett was the only Tatum player to score in double figures, nine others cracked the scoring column.

"We even had some kids that don't normally get a lot of playing time ... I was just proud," Carr said.

Tatum's Cole Hughes chases down a loose ball during an area-round playoff against Kountze on Friday in Lufkin. (© Christopher R. Vinn/

Freshman point guard Grayland Arnold had 16 points, three assists and five steals to lead Kountze. Justin Harper added 10 points and three steals, while Marcus Williams contributed eight points, nine rebounds and three steals in the losing cause.

Rockwell's first 3 of the night gave Tatum a 13-7 lead with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter, but Kountze closed the period on an 11-0 run to go in front, 18-13, after one.

Kountze's pressure defense caused Tatum problems in the first half. The Eagles finished the half with 13 turnovers, helping Kountze to a 27-21 halftime lead.

Garrett began the second half with a 3-pointer, and Jahee Johnson's layup gave Tatum a 31-29 lead with 5:49 remaining in the third. It was a lead the Eagles never lost.

Harper's 3-pointer cut Tatum's lead to 38-35 at the 4:00 mark, but the Eagles responded with a a crucial 6-0 run that put Tatum ahead by nine late in the quarter.

Arnold's jumper cut the Kountze deficit to 51-49 with 2:44 remaining, but Corey Lowe was called for his second intentional foul of the fourth quarter on the ensuing Tatum possession. Garrett knocked down one of the two technical-foul shots, and found Hughes under the basket on the inbounds pass for an easy layup that pushed Tatum's lead to 54-49 with 2:08 remaining.

Kountze's next two trips down the court resulted in turnovers, and Hughes and Rockwell combined to convert four free throws down the stretch that put the game away.


Class 2A Region III Boys Area Playoff
At Angelina College's Shands Gymnasium, Lufkin

No. 3 Tatum 60, No. 1 Kountze 49

Kountze              18    9   10   12   --   49
Tatum                 13    8   24   15   --   60
KOUNTZE--Grayland Arnold, 16; Justin Harper, 10; Marcus Williams, 8; Dante McMahon, 6; Darrion Harper, 5; Corey Lowe, 2; Jamazdon Powell, 2.
TATUM--Javolick Garrett, 24; Cole Hughes, 9; Robbie Rockwell, 8; Jahee Johnson, 4; Shaq Johnson, 4; Klifton Willis, 3; Devonte Alexander, 2; Casey Carr, 2; Donovan Centers, 2; Jaylen Shans, 2.
RECORDS--Kountze 32-4; Tatum 29-9.

Kountze's Jamazdon Powell (left) is defended by Tatum's Devonte Alexander during their Class 2A Region III area playoff Friday night in Lufkin. (© Christopher R. Vinn/