Nate Betts + No. 9 Kerens Hold Off Big Sandy, 70-62
TYLER -- For the first two quarters of Monday's Class A Division I Region III bi-district playoff, Big Sandy had no answer for Kerens' rebounding prowess.
And for all four quarters, Big Sandy never found a solution for Kerens' sophomore sensation Nate Betts, who had with 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists and six steals in ninth-ranked Kerens' 70-62 win at Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gym.
Kerens (21-7), which finished second in District 18-A behind No. 3 Cayuga, will face 19-A champion Waco Meyer later this week in the area round of the playoffs.
Big Sandy finished its season at 22-6.
Kerens held a 23-8 rebounding advantage over Big Sandy in the first half, helping the Bobcats to comfortable 37-27 halftime lead. But the Wildcats stemmed the tide in the second half, eventually cutting the Kerens lead to 66-62 with just 1:33 remaining.
But with 42.9 seconds to go, Big Sandy, which still had three fouls to give, allowed 30 seconds to elapse from the game clock before sending Kerens into the double bonus.
Betts sank both foul shots, pushing the Bobcats' lead to 68-62 with 12.2 seconds remaining. Then Kevin Townsel broke loose for a steal on the ensuing possession, and fed it to a breaking Betts, who jammed it home as time expired.
In addition to the big night from Betts, which included four 3-pointers, Tobyus Thomas had 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Townsel contributed eight points, four boards, four steals and three assists in the win.
The Kerens victory spoiled a spirited effort from Big Sandy's duo of Joshua Jackson and Isaiah Johnson. Jackson led the Wildcats with 28 points to go along with four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Johnson, meanwhile, finished with 21 points, eight boards and four steals.
Kerens began the game on a 8-0 run and led 19-12 after one quarter. Big Sandy's Taurus Keppard, who finished with 10 points and six rebounds, cut the Kerens lead to 33-27 late in the opening half. But the Bobcats finished strong with back-to-back buckets from Rayvon Faulk and Betts to close the half.
Betts gave Kerens its biggest lead of the night, 52-35, with his 3-pointer with 3:10 to go in the third. But Johnson and Keppard helped fuel a 6-0 run, which left Big Sandy trailing 54-45 at the end of the third.
Big Sandy continued to claw back in it in the fourth thanks to 3-pointers from Keppard, Jackson and Johnson before Betts and Kerens closed the door on the Wildcats' season.
Class A Region III Boys Bi-District Playoff
At Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gym
No. 9 Kerens 70, Big Sandy 62
Kerens 19 18 17 16 -- 70
Big Sandy 12 15 18 17 -- 62
KERENS--Nate Betts, 34; Tobyus Thomas, 16; Kevin Townsel, 8; Shelton Sayles, 5; Demetris Sayles, 4; Rayvon Faulk, 3.
BIG SANDY--Joshua Jackson, 28; Isaiah Johnson, 21; Taurus Keppard, 10; Matt Easley, 3.
RECORDS--Kerens 21-7; Big Sandy 22-6.