San Augustine Starts Fast + Finishes Strong in Regional Semifinal Win Over Kerens
TYLER -- Behind the duo of Dezmond Randle and Bobby Tanner, the eighth-ranked San Augustine Wolves defeated No. 9 Kerens, 81-60, Friday in a Class A Division I Region III semifinal at Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gym.
San Augustine (22-6) will face No. 3 Grapeland, which knocked off the Wolves back in early December, at 10 a.m. Saturday for the regional championship.
"We played Grapeland in December," said San Augustine coach Tory Barnes. "We were only two weeks out of football. I talked to (Grapeland coach Owen Clifton) after the game and told him 'we'll see you in Tyler.' And here we are."
San Augustine's Randle and Tanner led the charge early and often. Randle scored a game-high 23 points, which included five 3-pointers, and pulled down seven boards (six offensive), dished out four assists and collected three steals. Tanner added 19 points and nine rebounds. The two also combined to go 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
San Augustine led by as many as 19 in the first half and went into halftime leading, 41-30.
Then Kerens came to life.
The Bobcats began the second half on fire, staging a 16-4 run. It started with a Tobyus Thomas putback, and when Nate Betts finished his three-point play with just more than two minutes remaining in the third, it gave Kerens its first lead since Betts' triple to start the contest.
"I told my kids to persevere," Barnes said. "These are some high-character kids. I've got a good group of seniors. We've been down before. I told the guys 'just keep playing. We'll eventually wear these guys down.'"
And that's exactly what happened.
San Augustine outscored Kerens, 35-15, the rest of the way, highlighted by three Randle 3-pointers in a four-minute stretch.
"Dez was huge tonight," Barnes said. "Our biggest problem was we lost our aggressiveness. We weren't attacking the basket anymore. We got back to being strong, and once our point-guard is aggressive, our team goes and we started rolling."
San Augustine's Jarvis Smith and JaCourtney Thomas combined for 19 points, with Smith pulling down 11 boards and Thomas picking up four steals.
Kerens' Nate Betts, a sophomore, finished with a team-high 18 points and six rebounds. Thomas registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards and added three steals. Sophomore post Daedrion Tolliver contributed with 12 points and six boards, while Kevin Townsel added eight points, five rebounds and three steals.
The Wolves opened on a 20-5 spurt, thanks to five 3-pointers, and led 26-14 after one quarter.