LONGVIEW -- If Friday's Silver Bracket championship game had gone another five minutes, it just might have been have been Pine Tree bussing back across town with a first-place trophy from the Leroy Romines Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Lufkin completely emptied whatever it had left in the tank before the fourth quarter began at Longview High School's Lobo Coliseum, but that was enough to secure a 57-49 win and a fourth victory through six games played in 72 hours.

"We hit something," Panthers said coach J.T. McManus said with a tired laugh when asked about whether his team hit a metaphorical wall in the title game. "I'd like to say that's it. Who knows? We have a problem with that. Sometimes we just don't put people away. We let people hang around. We've got to execute better in those situations for sure."

Pine Tree guard Trey Williams scored a game-best 18 points in spite of the Pirates' loss.

Pine Tree's spirited comeback as it neared the end of 192 game minutes over three days wasn't very dramatic for the Pack (14-7) under the circumstance.

For Lufkin's coaching staff, it was more like diagnosing a potential problem down the road. Their team had dominated the meeting and owned a 44-27 lead at the third quarter buzzer.

It was a 10-1 game with less than five minutes off the clock.

All of that on the heels of a semifinal win against Liberty-Eylau, 61-41, five hours beforehand.

Pine Tree (7-9), which defeated Buna by 20 points earlier in the day, held Lufkin to two field goals in the fourth quarter and gave up 9 of the 11 free throw opportunities it allowed as the team transitioned from passively accepting the loss to more of a fouling-with-purpose approach.

"I don't want to use fatigue as an excuse," McManus said. "But there's a good chance that it did. We talked about that, going back and forth. You've got about an hour and 40-minute bus ride to and from. I'm sure some of that did come into play.

"But that was their sixth game of the tournament, too. You've got to find a way to use it as an excuse or find a way to get better. I don't feel like we did that the last four minutes of the game, but, luckily, we had played good enough in the first 28 that we could play as bad as we did and still hold on."

There was no concern with Lufkin out of the gate. McManus' squad held Pine Tree to 0-for-5 shooting from the field and forced one of two Pirates turnovers en route to the 10-1 lead in the game's first 4:23.

The Panthers won the second and third quarters as well by scores of 16-11 and 18-11.

For whatever reason, none of that had weight in the final period.

Courtnee Garcia led the way on the winning side with 17 points. He scored five points on fourth-quarter free throws.

Kevonte Hurts and Nick Wilson recorded 10 points apiece. Hurts scored the team's final two field goals.

Trey Williams reached a game-best 18 points for Pine Tree. He spearheaded a 22-13 win in the fourth quarter with 11 tallies.

A common theme among coaches during their tournament exit interviews was the excitement of returning to normalcy in a scheduling sense. Most local teams begin district play next week and will consistently play Tuesdays and Fridays -- two days of preparation between each game and a complete day off on Sundays.

They've run the gauntlets, the Panthers finished so with absolute success the final two days in Longview, and now it's time to play games that have bearing on qualifying for the state playoffs.

Lufkin's District 12-6A schedule won't begin until Jan. 13, but the same principle applies. It will travel to Whitehouse for a game Tuesday and then Friday visits chief rival Nacogdoches before beginning meaningful competition whereas Pine Tree resumes its 16-5A schedule Tuesday at Mount Pleasant.

"I know there are some really good players in our district," McManus said. "Quentin Grimes at College Park is one of the top juniors in America. I think he's been offered by everybody except Kentucky and Duke with those chances still to come. The Woodlands is really good. They've got Matt Bullard's son, who has already signed with Central Michigan, and then Romello Wilbert is a great player for them. Conroe has a kid that's a top 10 junior in the Houston area.

"I guess the theme of that answer is that there's a lot of good teams and a lot of talent. We'll have to clean up our play and play a little better than we did this week, but we did show glimpses this week of things we can do to have a chance to be successful in that district."

Lufkin's Nick Wilson goes up for a layup in the consolation bracket's title game. Wilson scored 10 points in the meeting.

Lufkin 57, Pine Tree 49

Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament
At Longview High School

Pine Tree           5      11      11    22     --    49
Lufkin               10     16       18    13      --  57
Lufkin (14-7) -- Courtnee Garcia 17, Kevonte Hurts 10, Nick Wilson 10, Jeremiah Davis 7, Ja'Courtney Calvin 4, Chris Thompson 4, Kordell Rodgers 3, James Jefferson 2.
Pine Tree (7-9) -- Trey Williams 18, J.J. Sparkman 11, Nick Noll 8, Kenny Jackson 4, Jacob Best 3, Eric Caveness 3, Eric Hawkins 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Pine Tree: Best, Caveness. Lufkin: Garcia (2).

 

Center point guard Octavius Evans celebrates one of his seven 3-pointers in a 78-70 semifinal loss to Pro-Vision. Despite the outcome, Evans scored a game-best 33 points.
Center Gives Eventual Tournament Champ Pro-Vision Tough Game

Center stuck around after falling to Houston Pro-Vision, 78-70 in the championship bracket semifinals, to see where they might stand in the state come March.

If you want to play the transitive property game, the Roughriders learned they were the best East Texas basketball team at the Leroy Romines Memorial Basketball Tournament by a big margin. You could also say the team was the tournament's third-best rather than fourth since Pro-Vision went on to win the tournament title a few hours later.

Who came out on the other side of the bracket? Houston Sam Houston. The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' top-ranked Class 6A team in the state.

Sam Houston lost its very first contest of the season to Pro-Vision (23-1), a non-University Interscholastic League charter school, by a score of 66-63 in the championship game.

Center point guard Octavius Evans holds Big 12 Conference football scholarship offers as a receiver, but he might be remembered as another in a long line of successful college football players from East Texas that held even more value on the high school level as a basketball star.

Evans hung 33 points on what turned out to be the best team in the tournament setting. He hit four 3-pointers before the midway mark of the first quarter for a 19-8 lead against Pro-Vision and went on to score nine more points on treys.

Pro-Vision, however, rallied from its sizable first-quarter deficit and held a 55-40 lead early in the third quarter. Evans' fifth and sixth 3-pointers got Center (19-4) in second-chance position.

It just wasn't meant to be.

When Pro-Vision pulled ahead again by nine, 70-61, Evans started a 9-3 run with his final 3-pointer. Akiem Daschner stopped the bleeding with a big basket the other way and coaxed Center into foul mode inside the final minute.

Houston Pro-Vision 78, Center 70

Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament
At Longview High School

Pro-Vision            19     27      16    16     --    78
Center                 25     10       20    15      --   70
Pro-Vision (23-1) -- Shaun Coleman 18, Akiem Daschner 16, Efe Odiege 14, Jacob Shields 10, Kahlil Williams 9, Juan Hood 7, Cameron Durr 2, Terrion Miller 2.
Center (19-4) --Octavius Evans 33, Jaterious Evans 18, Kyle Parks 8, Kaleb Parks 5, Reggie Daniels 2, Kameron Elmer 2, Ja'dus Johnson 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Pro-Vision: Williams (3), Hood. Center: Octavius Evans (7), Kyle Parks (2), Kaleb Parks.

Sam Houston Blows Away Longview

Houston Sam Houston looked the part of tournament favorite after a 71-50 win against host Longview on the other side of the bracket.

The Lobos were in hot water after the first quarter, down 18-6, and on the wrong end of a 42-16 halftime score.

Sam Houston may have slowed down in the second half to preserve itself for the subsequent championship game, but Longview showed some moxie. The Lobos won the second half, 34-28, against Sam Houston's starters and a bench of just four players.

Jaiden Smith and Jason Bush reached double digits for Longview with 17 and 10 points, respectively.

Kendric Davis's 38 points led the way for Sam Houston.

Houston Sam Houston 71, Longview 50

Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament
At Longview High School

Sam Houston          18     24      13    15     --    71
Longview                  6     10       16    18      --   50
Sam Houston -- Kendric Davis 38, Henry Hampton 13, Earl Beal 6, Marion Jackson 5, Jacob Wiley 5, Torron Mingo 2.
Longview -- Jaiden Smith 17, Jason Bush 10, Kyle Shields 7, Brandon Palmer 5, Jaylin Brown 4, Kaland Johnson 4, Austin Dotson 2, Kobe Davis 1.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Sam Houston: Hampton (3), Hood. Longview: Palmer, Shields, Smith.

Sam Houston's Jacob WIley's throws down a dunk in his squad's 71-50 win over Longview.