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Spring in Review: Top Five Moments of the Basketball Season

White Oak’s Levi Yancy lifts the state championship trophy after the Roughnecks’ 56-54 win over Brock in the Class 2A state title game last March in Austin. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

With summer merely one day from official starting, ETSN.fm decided to look back on an incredible spring season of East Texas sports.

There were plenty of great moments for boys and girls basketball this past season.

Three boys teams from the area qualified for the state tournament — White Oak, San Augustine and Douglass — and two more girls teams stamped their ticket to Austin in Martin’s Mill and Saltillo.

Here are the top five moments from the 2012-13 basketball season.

John Tyler’s Greg Ward goes up for a shot as Jacksonville’s Dadrian Franklin trails during their game last February at the Lions Den in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

5. John Tyler Ends Jacksonville’s Run At Perfection

It had been a while since there had been a more anticipated game at John Tyler’s Lions Den than the District 16-4A finale between JT and Jacksonville.

And it wasn’t because there was a playoff spot or district championship on the line.

What was at stake was a shot at something only a few teams across the state have ever achieved — a perfect regular season. That’s what Jacksonville was aiming to accomplish, and rival John Tyler was hoping to deny.

Jacksonville entered with a 32-0 record and was ranked No. 10, while John Tyler sought a big win before heading into the playoffs.

A jam-packed gym witnessed the two teams grind out possession after possession, neither team grabbing a lead of more than five points through three and a half quarters.

But thanks to a turned up defensive effort and clutch shooting from the field and the three throw line down the stretch, John Tyler kept Jacksonville from perfection with a 54-48 victory.

“We weren’t looking at this as a big game, it was just another game John Tyler basketball has to win,” John Tyler coach Cedeno Clark said afterwards. “But beating a top-10 team in the state of Texas really let us know who we are.”

Both Jacksonville and John Tyler scored first-round playoff victories before being eliminated in the area round.

Tatum’s Cole Hughes celebrates his team’s 60-49 win over No. 1 Kountze in a Class 2A Region III area playoff last February in Lufkin. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

4. Tatum Stuns Top-Ranked Kountze

Not many people were giving Tatum much of a chance against Kountze, the odds-on favorite to win the Class 2A state championship.

This, despite the fact Tatum had defeated the Lions earlier in the season at a tournament in December.

Moments after Tatum’s district rival White Oak breezed past Newton, a long line of fans from both schools began trickling into Angelina’s Shands Gymnasium in Lufkin for the nightcap between No. 3 Tatum and No. 1 Kountze.

Tatum jumped out to a quick 13-7 lead, but Kountze answered with an 11-0 run to end the first quarter with a five-point lead, and stretched its halftime lead to 27-21 by forcing Tatum into 13 turnovers through two quarters.

That’s when Javolick Garrett and the Eagles took over, taking a lead they’d never lose with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter. Kountze eventually trimmed what was an eight-point to 51-49 with less than three minutes remaining, but Tatum closed the game on a 9-0 run to pull the upset.

Garrett finished the night with 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“I had to give a 110-percent effort,” Garrett said after the game. “My team needed me, they called on me and I had to be a leader. That’s a big accomplishment in my life.”

White Oak’s Levi Yancy (35) shoots over Tatum’s Jahee Johnson (12) during White Oak’s 66-47 regional championship win March 2 at SFA’s William R. Johnson Coliseum in Nacogdoches. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

3. White Oak Runs Away From Rival Tatum

After Tatum’s stunning win over Kountze, everyone knew it would only be a matter of time before the Eagles and White Oak met for a third time in 2013.

And instead of district bragging rights, a spot at the state tournament in Austin was on the line when the 17-2A foes converged at SFA’s Johnson Coliseum in the 2A Region III championship game.

Everyone expected a classic, much like White Oak’s 63-62 win at Tatum during the regular season that ended with Roughnecks forward Levi Yancy’s buzzer-beating tip-in.

That was not the case. At all.

White Oak built a nine-point lead after one quarter, stretched its halftime lead to 33-14 and at one point led by 29 points in the third quarter in a 66-47 rout that sent the defending state champs back to Austin.

Senior point guard Kris Anderson dominated from the outset, and finished with 29 points and five assists, while sharp-shooting brothers Skylar and Slade Sutton combined for 21.

“With the pressure they put on, I just knew I could get by them,” Anderson said after game. “We ran spread the whole game. I just knew I could create.”

Martin’s Mill coach Doug Barncastle (left), Taylor Munns (center) and Haily Jenkins celebrate at the final buzzer of the Class A Division I state championship game last March in Austin. The Lady Mustangs rallied from 10 points down in the final four minutes to earn a third state title. (Travis Harsch, ETSN.fm)

2. Martin’s Mill Rallies Late For 1A Division I Title

Things were looking dire for the Martins’ Mill Lady Mustangs, who were trailing Smyer by 10 points with less than four minutes remaining in the Class A Division I state championship game.

It appeared as if Martin’s Mill would be receiving state runner-up medals for the fourth consecutive year.

But full-court pressure defense and clutch shots in crunch time got the Lady Mustangs right back in it.

With the score knotted at 46-46, Martin’s Mill’s Haily Jenkins pulled up for a 15-foot jumper with 13 seconds to go. The ball hung on the rim for what seemed like an eternity before finally dropping in for the Lady Mustangs’ first lead since early in the first half.

Martin’s Mill then forced a turnover at the other end, and after a free throw, the Lady Mustangs were celebrating their third state title and first since 2008.

Despite being outshot (Smyer shot 51 percent to Martin’s Mill 36 percent), Martin’s Mill put it all together in the final half of the fourth quarter.

“Winners find a way to win,” said Martin’s Mill coach Doug Barncastle after the win. “We could look at stats all day long and I can’t explain them. You look at it on paper and we should’ve got blown out.”

White Oak’s Kris Anderson shoots the game-winning shot in the closing seconds of White Oak’s 56-54 Class 2A state championship victory over Brock last March at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. (Courtesy Johnny Seymour)

1. Kris Anderson’s Shot Sends White Oak to State Title

Many wondered if White Oak could repeat as Class 2A state champions. Senior point guard Kris Anderson put those worries to rest.

The lightning-quick Anderson sank a right-handed runner with four seconds remaining to give the Roughnecks a 56-54 win over Brock to clinch White Oak’s second consecutive state title.

But when the game began, it didn’t seem likely any late-game dramatics would be in order.

White Oak built an 11-point lead in the first quarter and led by nine at halftime, before Brock began to make its charge.

The Roughnecks found themselves tied 35-35 with 4:06 in the third quarter. White Oak led 42-41 with seconds remaining in the quarter before Roughnecks guard Slade Sutton drilled a 45-footer at the buzzer to give White Oak a four-point lead going in the fourth.

White Oak’s final possession began with just less than a minute remaining. Anderson waited until the 10-second mark before making a move toward the basket. He crossed over a Brock defender in the lane to give him an open look for the game-winner.

“We ran 5, and that’s where we stall and get the last shot,” Anderson said afterwards. “We’ve been doing that for a long time, so I felt comfortable. When it got down to 8 (seconds), I just took what the defense gave me, and I’ve been doing that all year.”

Anderson was later named the championship game’s Most Valuable Player.

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