TATUM -- Lufkin found its groove in time to dispose of a Mount Pleasant team that might be making bigger headlines next season Tuesday in the two teams' Class 5A bi-district playoff game at Tatum High School.

The Panthers ended up taking a 58-45 win against a Tigers roster that started just one senior. It was only a two-point lead in favor of the Pack at halftime.

"Don't put them on the schedule," Lufkin head coach J.T. McManus said, laughing, when describing the opposition's upside. "Coach (Joey) Chism does a great job with them. He had those kids really ready to play tonight. You could tell. They had a lot of confidence early. They did what they needed to do to keep it close.

"You could see they weren't as comfortable once we got a lead. They were trying to slow the game down and, once we got into a full court game, we got a lot more comfortable."

Mount Pleasant post James Moore works around Lufkin's double team on his way to an 8-4 solo run.

Mount Pleasant (22-8), the fourth seed from District 15-5A, claimed a short-lived lead after the break -- the game's sixth lead change.

Lufkin (30-4), the first-place team from District 16-5A, answered with a 13-2 run over four minutes to flip the Tigers on their backs, 35-24, near the end of the third quarter. Senior guard Jaylon Calvin's seven points during the span led the way.

Calvin finished the contest with 16 points to lead all scorers. He came off the bench.

"He's our leading scorer," McManus said. "I know he comes off the bench and that's a little unusual, but he's tremendous. We've tried to put him in the starting lineup, but he's a little more comfortable coming off the bench. We just let him play there and he normally has a stretch like that. He just finds a way to get it done, and we're a lot better when he does."

Coinciding with the run was a dramatic drop off in Lufkin turnovers. The team committed 11 giveaways in the first half and closed with contest with 13 in total.

Mount Pleasant recorded eight steals through the game.

Aside from the run, the Tigers' undoing was its fouling. They were whistled 22 times and the Panthers made them pay with 9 of 15 shooting from the line.

Junior post James Moore tried to will Mount Pleasant back into the game. He scored 13 of his team-best 15 points in the second half, including a solo 8-4 stretch against Lufkin, to make it a 39-31 game entering the final period.

That was as close as the Tigers got in crunch time.

The Pack regained a double-digit lead around the six-minute mark and never gave it up.

Mount Pleasant didn't start off the meeting with great shooting. As the underdog, however, it greatly benefitted from an equally slow Lufkin start.

McManus' team didn't connect from the floor until the 2:30 mark of the first period. Royce Kennebrew's 3-pointer at that point gave the Panthers a 5-4 advantage.

Scoring for both teams took off in the final minutes of the quarter. The Tigers owned an 8-7 lead at the first buzzer and stayed within striking distance until Calvin broke out.

Three early blocks from senior forward Cameron Hart helped tide the Pack over. Hart ended up with six blocks.

By the end of the game, Lufkin had two players in double figures alongside Calvin. Courtnee Garcia scored 14 points and Royce Kennebrew rolled out with 11.

Buddy McGill, a sophomore, supplemented Moore with 10 points for Mount Pleasant.

Lufkin will take on Arlington Seguin, the third-place team from District 14-5A, later this week in the area round.

A date, time and location will be announced in the very near future.

"I just think we relaxed," McManus said. "We had good looks. We just told the kids to keep playing. We were at halftime and I said, 'I don't know if we can play much worse. I don't want to put a jinx on us, for sure, but we relaxed and started playing. When the ball goes through the hoop, it helps everything else."

Lufkin's Nick Wilson finishes a drive against Mount Pleasant's Dexter Roberson for two of his four points Tuesday,

 

Lufkin 58, Mount Pleasant 45

Boys Class 5A Bi-District Game
At Tatum High School

Mount Pleasant      8    10    13    14    --    45
Lufkin                     7    12    19    19    --   58

MOUNT PLEASANT (22-8)-- James Moore 15, Buddy McGill 10, Jesse Morales 8, Dexter Roberson 4, Justin Zepeda 4, Holden Davis 3, Dorian Glinton 1.
LUFKIN (30-4) -- Jaylon Calvin16, Courtnee Garcia 14, Royce Kennebrew 11, Cameron Hart 7, Nick Wilson 4, Ja'Darrien Bennett 3, Kordell Rodgers 3.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Mount Pleasant: Morales (3), Davis. Lufkin: Garcia (2), Bennett, Calvin, Kennebrew.