Lufkin Hudson Punches Regional Ticket + Snaps Tatum’s Three-Year Streak
NACOGDOCHES -- Lufkin Hudson is in. Tatum is out.
The Hornets' fundamentals prevented the No. 18 Eagles from making a fourth consecutive regional tournament appearance, a 64-57 decision Tuesday in the Class 4A Region III quarterfinal playoff round at Nacogdoches High School's Dragon Coliseum.
"This is big for us," Hudson head coach Rob Peterson said. "We went there five and six years ago, two years straight, and you always wonder when you might get back there. This team probably wasn't favored to get there. It's a brand new team, basically. They've been resilient all year long and fought the odds all year long."
Hudson (29-8) won every important statistical category in the playoff meeting other than turnovers, which it lost 14 to seven.
Shooting was the most significant.
The Hornets were red hot through the first half and leveled off for roughly 45 percent from the field. They supplemented a solid offensive day with 17 of 21 shooting from the free throw line as Tatum (27-9) worked its way to 23 fouls.
The Eagles shot 28 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game at 34.3 percent. Meanwhile, they went 10 of 19 at the line in their seven-point margin of defeat.
Hudson senior guard Josiah Garges hit 13 of the winning side's free throws as part of his game-high 23 points. He missed just one freebie.
"We shoot 100 free throws after every practice," Garges said. "That worked out. I wanted to get my free throw percentage up. At the end of the game, I want to shoot those free throws. I trust myself and hopefully my teammates trust that I'll knock them down. When I was at the line, I was just thinking, 'I've shot a million free throws and these are the ones that are going to count."
A Garges 3-pointer gave the Hornets a permanent lead at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter. It was Hudson's first field goal en route to a 13-7 lead at the period's buzzer.
The guard spearheaded a 7-0 run in the second quarter with five points to give his side a double-digit lead that lasted until the 5:27 mark of the third quarter.
Down 37-23 at halftime, Tatum pulled itself together for 12-3 spree over six minutes and closed the gap to five points.
Hudson countered with a 10-3 run before the third quarter ended. Garges' jump shot established a second double-digit lead into the fourth quarter.
Shay Rodgers got the Eagles back to within four points, 61-57, with 55 seconds to play on his last of a tied-for-team-best 16 points. DaCalen Hicks also scored 16 points for Tatum.
The Hornets, in the double bonus, beat Tatum's front court press twice in the final seconds and fed the ball to Garges to be fouled.
Garges knocked down three of four free throw opportunities. The miss snapped a 12-for-12 streak.
"I almost cried after this," Garges said. "It's just a great feeling. There are four teams left in 4A Region III. We're one of the best teams in Texas right now. It's a lot of emotions. I'm really proud of my team."
Jake Germany and Zack Pierce finished second in scoring for Hudson with 10 points each. Javarious Cooper pulled down nine of the team's 25 defensive boards in the win to round out top performers.
Stephen Marshall scored 11 points to supplement Hicks and Rodgers in Tatum's effort.
The Eagles will graduate eight of the 14 players on their playoff roster in May. Many of the eight seniors were parts of regional semifinal runs or better in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Hudson's win avenged a 49-39 loss at Tatum in its non-district finale and set a date with Silsbee in the regional semifinal round. The Hornets and Silsbee will meet Friday evening at Sam Houston State's Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville.
If Hudson wins that game, it will play either Center or Navasota on Saturday at Sam Houston State with a state tournament berth on the line.
"This was one our goals," Germany said. "We've been working at it through practice and just really going at it. It was one of our goals. We sat down on the first day and this was one of our goals along with some others. It's just huge for us. We're so happy right now."
Lufkin Hudson 64, No. 18 Tatum 57
Boys Class 4A Region III Quarterfinal
At Dragon Coliseum, Nacogdoches
Hudson 13 24 13 14 -- 64
Tatum 7 16 22 19 -- 57
HUDSON (29-8) -- Josiah Garges 24, Jake Germany 10, Zack Pierce 10, Javarius Cooper 8, LaJavion Randle 7, Jacob Pierce 6, .
TATUM (27-9) -- DaCalen Hicks 16, Shay Rodgers 16, Stephen Marshall 11, Jalan Horne 7, K.J. Boyd 4, Corey Lee 3.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Hudson: Garges (2), Zack Pierce (2), Randle. Tatum: Hicks (2), Rodgers.