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No. 6 Cayuga’s Size Helps Wildcats to 65-58 Victory Over No. 9 Kerens

Cayuga’s Preston Anderson goes up for a two-hand slam during the Wildcats’ 65-58 win over Tenaha in Saturday’s third-place game at the Tenaha Holiday Hoops tournament. Cayuga beat Kerens 65-58 in Tuesday’s District 18-A Division I contest. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

CAYUGA — No. 6 Cayuga relied on its height and depth to beat No. 9 Kerens 65-58 on Tuesday before a capacity home crowd in District 18-A Division I’s battle for first place.

Cayuga (18-6, 4-0) built a 20-point second-half lead, but Kerens (14-6, 3-1) rallied, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to five with less than a minute left. But free throws from Cayuga’s Preston Anderson and Chandler Rigdon down the stretch closed the contest.

The 6-foot-7 Anderson scored a team-high 25 points and added nine rebounds, five blocks, three assists, and two steals. The Hartford University signee was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Cayuga 6-foot-7 post Deon Shofner added 19 points and seven boards despite playing with foul trouble for most of the game. Rigdon added 11 points and two blocks.

“We executed our game plan for about 3 1/2 quarters,” said Cayuga coach Greg Jenkins. “When Shofner picked up his fourth foul, we weren’t the same team from that point. Just didn’t execute. Give (Kerens) credit, but nothing we talked about doing, we did. We just didn’t finish the game the way we should have. That’s not going to get you to Austin (for the state tournament).”

Sophomore guard Nate Betts led Kerens with 25 points and 14 rebounds (seven offensive). Teammate Tobyus Thomas tallied 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

Anderson started the fourth with an up-and-under post move for two, followed by a blocking a Kerens shot attempt into the concession stand area. At that point, Cayuga led 54-37, and looked to be in complete control.

Then Cayuga’s Shofner picked up his fourth foul, and Kerens started to chip away at the deficit.

Betts started the comeback with a three-point play off a putback. Betts notched another three-point play to pull the Bobcats were within 12 points, 56-44. Kevin Townsel’s pull-up jumper in the lane and his lefty layup on consecutive possessions,  capped a 13-6 Kerens run that brought the Bobcats within five, 62-57, but Anderson and Rigdon’s free-throw shooting helped Cayuga hold on for the victory.

Cayuga opened the game on fire. Anderson drained a three-pointer at the top of the key, Pat Boxie dished to Shofner for a hook shot, and Anderson hit another trey for an 11-3 lead. Cayuga led 18-10 after one quarter.

Cayuga pushed its lead to 17 points in the second. Anderson hit a couple of three-pointers from beyond NBA range, Rigdon scored on a strong move to the bucket and hit a three-pointer of his own for a 36-19 halftime lead.

Betts started the second-half with a dunk in transition, but Anderson answered with a rebound and turnaround jumper. After Jackson went off the glass for two, Anderson found Shofner for a three-point play that pushed Cayuga’s advantage to 43-23.

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