MALAKOFF -- The battle for the District 18-3A championship wages on between the top two teams.

Malakoff spoiled Frankston's one-game window of opportunity to clinch the league title with a 46-42 victory Friday. The win pulled the Tigers even with the Indians in the standings at 12-1 within the district with just one game remaining for both teams in the regular season.

"I'll savor it for about about 30 minutes," Malakoff head coach DeArtis Nickerson Jr. said. "I'm sure we'll play against them next Friday at a neutral site. It's always a war when we play them."

Jared Givens attempts a fadeaway jumper over Frankston's Caden Bruton. Givens scored X points and the Tigers extended the district championship race. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

The Indians (22-5, 12-1) cruised into the big game undefeated in the league, but it could not clinch the 18-3A championship because Malakoff (24-4, 12-1) trailed behind by just one game -- a road loss against Frankston.

An Indians win would have put Malakoff two games back in the standings, mathematically eliminating the Tigers from first place. Other district teams fell out of the chase for the top spot weeks ago.

Frankston came close to clinching the league without extra headaches. It never led in the game, but a 9-2 run over 90 seconds late in the fourth quarter set up a frantic final 55 seconds.

The Indians' score streak, capped by a long Dylan Hokit 3-pointer, cut what had been a nine-point deficit at its largest to a 42-40 game.

Out of a timeout immediately following the score, Frankston committed its 10th foul of the half and Malakoff's Jared Givens hit both free throw attempts to up the score to 44-40.

Ozzie Buckner missed a 3-point attempt on the next trip, but Allen Byrd came up with an offensive rebound and dished to Justice Bean for a basket down low with 20 seconds to play.

With 13 seconds left and facing a hard press, Malakoff turned the ball over to Bean at mid court. He drove in for a contested layup that bounced off the rim and out.

Frankston fouled. Braylon Cable sunk both free throws to seal the game.

"It feels great because we lost the first district game to them," sophomore guard QT Barker said. "We played horrible in that game. We took every game one game at a time since then and got this opportunity. We came hard at them in this game."

Both teams shot about 40 percent from the field.

Barker led all scorers with 15 points for Malakoff. Cable finished second on the team with nine points off the bench. Marcus Dowell came down with nine rebounds in addition to six points and helped the Tigers out to a 24-20 win on the boards.

Frankston committed 19 turnovers to Malakoff's 15 in addition to the rebound deficit. That allowed the Tigers to get off 45 shots to the Indians' 43 in the two-basket decision.

"They play a great, sagging man-to-man defense," Nickerson said. "They're one of the few teams that actually knows how to stop us in that man-to-man defense."

Kendrick Rogers' slam dunk cut what was once a nine-point deficit to five points inside the final two minutes of Friday's game. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Bean scored 13 points for Frankston and was followed by nine points from Kendrick Rogers.

With an 8-6 lead after the first quarter, Malakoff went on a 9-2 run to pull ahead by nine points for the first time in the game midway through the second quarter. Barrett started it with the game's first made 3-point shot.

The Tigers led 23-16 at halftime.

Frankston pulled to 23-20 at the 5:33 mark of the third period. But Malakoff outscored the Indians 10-7 through the last minutes of the frame and opened the last quarter with back-to-back baskets for the first of two separate nine-point leads.

Down 40-31, Bean began the rally attempt with a short distance shot with 2:22 to play. Michael Bradford recorded a steal at the other end and fed Hokit for a score 22 seconds later.

Malakoff committed a turnover and Frankston had two cracks at cutting the deficit to one possession with about 1:50 left but missed both shots. Cable made the Indians pay with a basket the other way.

Rogers restarted the comeback effort with a steal and a dunk to make the score 42-37. That set up Hokit's big trey.

"There was like a minute and 37 seconds left and we're up (seven points)," Nickerson said. "Just kept turning the ball over and kept Frankston in the game. That final 1:37 lasted forever. Time did stand still."

If both teams win their final game or both lose the final game, they will meet next Friday to determine which side gets the district's No. 1 playoff seed. Both programs have already clinched spots in the Class 3A postseason.

Nickerson said he suspects the pending game would be played at a neutral site. The two teams will determine a location next week.

Frankston closes its regular season against Corsicana Mildred on Tuesday.

Malakoff will face Troup on Monday. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but it was moved so Tigers fans can attend the girls' first round playoff game without conflict.

"Everybody was live tonight," Barrett said. "It was a great competition. We'll see what happens next."

Tyler Russell goes up for two points in the second quarter of Malakoff's 46-42 win Friday against Frankston. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Malakoff 46, Frankston 42

District 18-3A Boys Basketball
At Malakoff High School, Malakoff

Frankston              6    10     11    15    --    42
Malakoff                8    15     10    13    --    46

FRANKSTON (22-5, 12-1)  -- Justice Bean 13; Kendrick Rogers 9; Caden Bruton 8; Dylan Hokit 7; Ozzie Buckner 5.
MALAKOFF (24-4, 12-1) -- QT Barker 15; Braylon Cable 9; Kendrick Hornbuckle 8; Marcus Dowell 6; Jared Givens 4; A.J. Cook 2; Tyler Russell 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Frankston: Hokit. Malakoff: Barker (2).