LINDALE -- Not much was expected from the Lufkin Panthers before the postseason began, which wasn't surprising considering their third-place finish in district.

Despite hard-fought wins over quality opponents in the first couple of rounds, even less was expected from Lufkin prior to Tuesday night's Class 6A Region II quarterfinal against No. 3 Dallas Skyline.

But then the game started.

The Panthers hung with Skyline stride-for-stride, before Raiders senior guard and Kansas signee Marcus Garrett's driving layup with two seconds remaining, which sent Skyline to a thrilling 44-42 victory.

"(Skyline) hadn’t played a lot of close games this year, and we felt like if we could put the pressure on them, we had a chance," said Lufkin coach J.T. McManus. "We did everything we wanted, and they’re still good enough to find a way to win.”

Lufkin evened the game at 42-42 on Ja'Courtney Calvin's layup with 59 seconds to play.

Skyline then held the ball on the other end, waiting until the 20-second mark to begin its set. Garrett, who finished with a game-high 27 points, initiated the offense, and was able to maneuver from the wing to the basket for the game-winner.

“It came down to an All-America type player that made an All-America type play at the end of the game," McManus said. "That’s the difference between winning and us losing and going home.”

Skyline (32-1) will take on Spring Dekaney in one regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday from Dallas ISD's Davis Field House.

Lufkin (23-13), which survived playoff wins over Mesquite and Richardson Berkner in the first two rounds, turned in perhaps its best performance of the season in Tuesday night's season-ending loss.

“For the last couple of weeks our kids have competed on the defensive end as good as anybody in the state," McManus said. "(Skyline) is one of the best teams defensively that I’ve ever seen in the history of my coaching career, and I felt like at least for tonight our kids stood toe-to-toe with them.

“It hurts. But we talk all the time about growing up in life, and it means something to be from Lufkin. And our kids played and represented those that have come before them, and set a good example for those that will come after them.”

Courtnee Garcia led Lufkin with 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Sophomore Ke'Vonte Hurts added 12 points, including 10 in the second half.

But it was his defense, particularly against Garrett, down the stretch that kept Lufkin within striking distance.

“When you have a little sophomore in Ke’Vonte Hurts who asked to move to (Garrett) late in the game, that says what you need to know about our kids," McManus said. "He did everything he could to stop him, but that’s just a great player he’s going against.”

Following an action-packed first quarter of action, which ended with Skyline holding an 18-15 lead, the pace of the game slowed down considerably. The two teams combined for just 14 points in the second quarter.

Skyline's lead never reached double digits, but following a Garrett 3-pointer to begin the second half, the Raiders went up 29-21. A 5-0 Lufkin run highlighted by a Hurts 3-point shot, and a 4-0 spurt to close the quarter cut the Panthers' deficit to three, 35-32.

Lufkin never took the lead in the fourth, but tied it right away with a Garcia three-point play. Garrett knocked down another triple to push the Skyline lead to back to three, and he later added another bucket to give the Raiders a 42-37 lead with 4:48 to play.

Skyline did not score again until Garrett's game-winner with two seconds remaining.

“We forced them to do some things that maybe they didn’t want to do," McManus said. "We held them to 44 points and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, so we (executed) very well. We just wanted to compete, compete for every possession, do everything we could to make it tough on them."

No. 3 Dallas Skyline 44, Lufkin 42

Boys Class 6A Region II Quarterfinal
At Lindale High School

Skyline                18      8      9      9    —    44
Lufkin                  15      6    11    10    —    42
SKYLINE (32-1) — Marcus Garrett, 27; Jase Townsend, 8; Treyvon Watts-Hale, 6; Terreon Randolph, 2; Sammy Brooks, 1.
LUFKIN (23-13) — Courtney Garcia, 17; Ke’Vonte Hurts, 12; Ja’Courtney Calvin, 6; James Jefferson, 3; Jeremiah Davis, 2; Breylon Garcia, 2.
THREE-POINT GOALSSkyline: Garrett (2), Townsend, Watts-Hale. Lufkin: C. Garcia (3), Hurts.

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