SULPHUR SPRINGS -- Sulphur Springs' standing room crowd was amped and ready to help their squad gain the upper hand Friday in a game between the final two unbeaten teams in District 16-5A play.

Mount Pleasant just didn't give them a reason to get started in a 52-37 road win. The Tigers now stand alone at the top of the league standings.

"That's a well-coached team," head coach Joey Chism said as the sellout crowd came down to the floor to shoot their own hoops in the game's aftermath. "Coach (Clark) Cipoletta has done a very good job with Sulphur Springs. The score was lopsided, but it was a close game all the way down. We're just happy to get the win."

More than any other district competitor, Mount Pleasant (17-5, 5-0) had a team that effectively mirrored Sulphur Springs (18-5, 3-1) in sheer size and skill sets. It had the senior bigs in James Moore and Holden Davis to scrap down low with sophomore sensation Victor Iwuakor and backup center Xavier Cook, and it had guards capable of driving the lane for baskets and free throws.

Moore, Davis and the complimenting guards made Iwuakor a non-factor in latter part of the first half. Iwuakor picked up his third foul at the 5:46 mark of the second quarter and sat, which allowed the Tigers to open a 15-11 lead at the time to 26-13 at the break.

Iwuakor scored four of his five total points -- the team's third-best point total -- in the first two minutes of the second half to lead a charge back within nine points, but the Wildcats never were able to cut further into the deficit and began taking their chances from the perimeter.

Mount Pleasant made Sulphur Springs work hard for any look.

Point guard Josh McGill-Spencer recorded four of the Tigers' 12 steals in the game. The Wildcats only suffered five unforced errors for 17 turnovers in total.

Seventeen turnovers contributed to a low-scoring but relatively decent 12-for-34 performance from the floor. The Tigers managed to convert 17 of their 41 looks with a plus-six turnover margin at the buzzer.

Moore's dunk with about three seconds to play off a steal gave him a team-best 15 points. Dorian Glinton finished the game with 14 points, and an 11-point performance from Kevin Savage rounded out double-digit scorers on the winning side.

Sulphur Springs guards Ke'ontae Dunn and Keaston Willis guided their team with 15 and 12 points, respectively.

"We're just glad that we came and got the win," Moore said. "We've had this game circled all year long. Coach prepared a hard schedule for us leading up to these guys, and we managed to get the win."

Sulphur Springs fell into a second-place tie with Hallsville, which defeated Pine Tree elsewhere Friday.

There are seven teams in the district, so the squads take shifts being the odd team out in the league schedule.

The Tigers have one more game, Jan. 20 at home against Greenville, before completing their first of two circuits around the district.

The Wildcats, who were idle Tuesday, will have the opportunity to gain a half-game against Mount Pleasant if they earn a road win Tuesday at Greenville and then complete their first circuit Jan. 20 against Hallsville.

Mount Pleasant hosts Sulphur Springs on Feb. 7.

"It feels great to be in the position we're in now," Moore said. "We're hoping to win the district championship. We've taken another step. We believe we have the perfect team to do it."

---

Mount Pleasant 52, Sulphur Springs 37

District 16-5A
At Sulphur Springs High School

Mount Pleasant               14       9       14   12     --   52
Sulphur Springs              12       4       12    14      --  37
Mount Pleasant (17-5, 5-0) -- James Moore 15, Dorian Glinton 14, Kevin Savage 11, Josh McGill-Spencer 6, K.J. Cannon 4, Buddy McGill 2.
Sulphur Springs (18-5, 3-1) -- Ke'ontae Dunn 15, Keaston Willis 12, Victor Iwuakor 5, Xavier Cork 3, Michael Jefferson 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Mount Pleasant: Glinton (3), Moore, Savage. Sulphur Springs: Willis.