Center Fends Off Pleasant Grove For Regional Appearance
LONGVIEW -- Tuesday's highly anticipated showdown between Center and Pleasant Grove in the Class 4A regional quarterfinal round more than lived up to its billing.
The Roughriders endured nine first-half lead changes and held onto a one-possession advantage as late as the 4:15 mark of the fourth quarter en route to a 72-58 win at Spring Hill High School. They're back in the regional tournament setting for a second consecutive season.
"It was a fight to the finish," Center coach Hiram Harrison said. "Guys on both teams played extremely hard. Pleasant Grove, those guys took it to the limit and exposed some of our weaknesses. There are some things that we've got to go work on, but I'm proud of our guys. They made free throws, made shots and eventually executed the game plan."
In a game of runs, Center (32-4) pulled off the all important final tear.
It held Pleasant Grove (22-10) to two points in seven possessions through the game's final 4:31 and scored 14 points in the same span. That blew open what had been a 58-56 situation.
The Hawks never led in the second half, but they were only down by two points at halftime and got within one possession on three different occasions in the third and fourth quarters.
Six points by both Jaterious Evans and Kaleb Parks in the last five minutes got the Roughriders to the high ground. Evans finished with a game-best 27 points and Parks scored 12 while adding a team-best nine rebounds.
Evans put up 13 points in the first quarter to keep Center in front by a point, but big brother and Boise State receiver signee Octavious Evans struggled to fulfill his role as the team's headliner in the early minutes.
Octavius Evans reached the scoresheet midway through the second quarter as Pleasant Grove nursed the game's eighth lead. He ultimately scored eight first-half points and 13 through the contest to round out all Roughriders in double digits.
A 3-pointer by Kyle Parks -- the older brother of Kaleb Parks -- with 45 seconds remaining in the first half put Center up for good.
Connor Ouellette scored 20 points in his final game and returns to a Pleasant Grove baseball team that won the regional championship last season.
Xavier Benson, a junior college linebacker prospect, scored 14 points and Aaron Harmon hit three 3-pointers toward 10 points on the losing side.
Center will take on Argyle, a 59-47 victor Tuesday against Dallas Carter, in the Region II semifinal round at 6 p.m. Friday on the Texas A&M-Commerce campus.
The Roughriders finished the regular season ranked sixth in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' 4A poll. Argyle finished 10th on the same list.
Whichever team wins Friday's meeting will return to Commerce on Saturday to face either Dallas Lincoln or Paris.
"Pleasant Grove was one of the best teams we've played all season," Jaterious Evans said. "It was good to get that experience. I think they were way better than some of the 5A teams we've played. We've got a big chip on our shoulder after last year going into the regional tournament."
No. 6 Center 72, Pleasant Grove 58
Class 4A Region II Quarterfinals
At Spring Hill High School, Longview
Center 16 20 12 24 -- 72
Pleasant Grove 15 19 8 16 -- 58
Center (32-4) -- Jaterious Evans 27, Octavius Evans 13, Kaleb Parks 12, Kyle Parks 9, Reggie Daniels II 6, Jamar'h Johnson 3, Kameron Elmer 2.
Pleasant Grove (22-10) -- Connor Ouellette 20, Xavier Benson 14, Aaron Harmon 10, Couryuntea Jones 8, Cameron Edwards 4, Stephen Austin 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Center: Jaterious Evans (4), Johnson, Parks. Pleasant Grove: Harmon (3), Ouellette (3).