JEWETT -- Tenaha has a history of peaking at exactly the right time, just ask Dallardsville Big Sandy. It fell to the Tigers last season in the quarterfinal round for its fifth and final loss of the year.

Big Sandy, the top-ranked Class 2A team in the state this season, made its amends with a sound 59-38 win against what had been a Cinderella story Tigers team in the Region III championship game Saturday at Jewett's Leon High School.

"The kids never quit," head coach Todd Bodden said. "Everybody, and I mean everybody, said we weren't supposed to be here. But the kids never quit and kept playing. We were more or less having injuries and trying to work through that. We finally got healthy and then who knows what happens in the regionals. My hat's off to Big Sandy, but my kids played their butts off and that's all I can ask for."

This Tenaha team might not stick out on paper with a 19-12 final record. First-hand, however, the Tigers made the No. 1 team look silly for the better part of the first quarter.

Not very often has Big Sandy (37-3) been forced to burn a timeout less than three minutes into a ball game. That was the case for the Wildcats, and they got further in the hole, facing a 13-4 deficit at its worst and being held to 1-for-9 shooting through the game's first six minutes.

The Tigers just couldn't keep their foot on the gas.

Big Sandy got back within two points, 13-11, with a 7-0 run over the final 1:38 to close the quarter. The Tigers did not commit a single turnover until the after the four-minute mark but finished the period with five.

The second quarter was much tougher to watch. For five and a half minutes, Tenaha shot 0-for-3 and gave up another 10 possessions.

Big Sandy extended its run to 21-0 over seven minutes of play.

Considering the circumstances, the Tigers were lucky to be down 25-19 at the halftime break. The Wildcats shot less than 40 percent even after the massive swing.

Touch was there in the second half.

Big Sandy delivered the back breaker late in the third quarter. It won the rebound on the back end of two missed Tenaha free throws with 1:30 remaining in the period, milked the clock all the way down to one second and Angel Bullock nailed a trey at the buzzer to give his team a 40-27 advantage.

"We played well in the half-court game against them and they didn't have an answer for it," Bodden said. "Their answer was to go 94 (feet) instead of half. They beat us at it. They're pretty good. They're a good team. They outplayed us there today."

Bullock led Big Sandy with 25 points, including four 3-point scores. Benson Williams also got up there with 19 points.

Colton Goeke paced Tenaha with 12 points.

The Wildcats advanced to the Class 2A state tournament in San Antonio. They will play a state semifinal game at either 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. Friday at the Alamodome.

Tenaha will graduate seniors Cobe Caraway, Tyler Davison, D'Andre Thomas and T.J. Thomas in May. It should bring back eight players from its 12-man roster.

"You never know," Bodden said. "Tenaha, you can never count us out. You never know. We're loaded with underclassmen. Tenaha will be back. I don't know when, but it will be."

Dallardsville Big Sandy 59, Tenaha 38

Boys Class 2A Region III Championship
At Leon High School, Jewett

Tenaha         13       6      8    11    --    62
Big Sandy     11     14    15    19    --    70
TENAHA (19-12) -- Colton Goeke 12; Trae Gardner 9; Tyler Davison 7; D'Andre Thomas 4; Cobe Caraway 2; Marques Davis 2; T.J. Thomas 2.
BIG SANDY (37-3) -- Angel Bullock 25; Benson Williams 19; Seth Maze 7; Samuel Richard 4; Zach Dickens 2; Laine Langley 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Tenaha: Goeke (2), Davison. Big Sandy: Bullock (4), Maze.