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Palestine Defeats Rusk, 76-61, For Its First Playoff Berth In Almost A Decade

PALESTINE — It had been almost a decade since a boys’ basketball team from Palestine High School made the postseason. Thanks to Tony Butler and Co., that streak came to an end Tuesday night.

Butler scored a team-high 14 points, including nine in a pivotal second quarter, and the Wildcats punched their ticket back to the playoffs with a 76-61 win over Rusk.

With the win, the Wildcats (11-16, 4-4) earned District 19-3A’s final playoff spot and will face Jasper in the bi-district round next Tuesday.

Ben Luckett had 12 points in the win for Palestine, which also got 11 from Gee Clark and nine from Sheldon Watson.

Jadarian Skiner had 19 for Rusk, while Kody Stanley had 10 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.

Rusk only threatened Palestine once in the game, with an 8-2 run to start the second quarter. That run cut what had been a 16-8 Palestine lead after the first quarter to a 20-18 edge for the Wildcats in less than two minutes.

But Butler calmly hit two free throws to end the run, then converted a layup off a steal, got fouled and made the foul shot to extend the lead back to eight.

From there, it was all over but the waiting.

Palestine extended its lead after each frame, leading by 15 at the half and by 19 after three quarters. On three different occasions Rusk was able to get the deficit down to 14 in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer than that.

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