Longview Defeats Lufkin in OT to Claim Leroy Romines Title
LONGVIEW-- Don Newton's forehead dripped with sweat.
Newton hadn't played a second, but he was exhausted. He coached the Lobos for five games of basketball in three days at the Leroy Romines Tournament. They won each one, including the championship against rival Lufkin on Saturday in overtime, 51-47.
"I'm wore out," he said. "I think (the tournament) has been a great success. I can't say enough about our booster club. All the support we've had has been tremendous. I hope we can create some excitement. The crowds haven't been what I was hoping for at 15-3, but hopefully people can see the kids working hard and come on back."
Moments earlier, the game appeared over. Lufkin (11-6) scored to go up 43-39 with under a minute to play. Newton called timeout to try to get the Lobos together for a final run at things.
After a missed Lufkin free throw that could have sealed the game, Jason Bush nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Panther lead to one. No foul was necessary on the ensuing possession, for Bush poked the ball away. That set up a chance to win the game for Longview, which was fouled in attempting a transition score.
The first free throw was good. The second clanked off. Lufkin had a chance to score with about six seconds remaining, but couldn't end it in regulation.
Bush's presence loomed large in overtime, too. With Longview (15-3) up two and only seconds remaining, he was sent to the line. He calmly hit both free throws to put any hope of a second overtime away.
He finished with 22 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
"He's a player," Newton said. "When I got here, I was surprised at how under-recruited he was. He just continues to get better and better. He's been a sponge. He's continued to come up big for us in big situations."
The Lobos controlled the game down low outside of only Bush. Jaylin Brown led both teams with 15 rebounds. Malik Henry had three blocks and five rebounds off the bench. The Panthers' inside duo of JaCourtney Calvin and Natron Wortham was held to only seven points.
"Lufkin, with us being so familiar with each others systems, it's a challenge because he's got grown men down there," Newton said. They can guard on the perimeter a little better than most. But I'll take our bigs any day of the week because of their ability to be hybrid. They can go inside and outside and accomplish things."
The Lobos saw that work tonight, with Bush nailing two 3-pointers in addition to his work inside. Meanwhile, Lufkin got most of its offense from guard Chris Thompson, who finished with 21 points including three 3s.
The teams had faced each other twice before this in 2017, with the Lobos taking both games. As the adage goes, it's tough to beat a team twice and even harder to do it a third time. Longview has certainly earned bragging rights in this rivalry for the time being with a gritty performance in overtime.
"We didn't play great, but we got contributions from a lot of guys," Newton said. "The guys that we've been counting on continue to get better. I know we've got a long way to go, but the kids are working hard and interested in getting better. It's been fun, but I know we've got a ton to do."