TYLER -- Thursday's victory was a long time coming for Lindale.

The Eagles defeated Burleson, 72-59 to advance to the semifinals of the Wagstaff Holiday Classic at Tyler Junior College. Any win is a reason to celebrate, but the history between these two teams left the Eagles feeling a little extra giddy.

Burleson handed Lindale a 95-44 loss at the Wagstaff Holiday Classic a season ago. Although coach Chris Grotemat said the team didn't focus on the loss in its preparation, he isn't ignorant. He knows it played somewhat of a factor Thursday.

"We didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it, but this was personal for our kids," he said. "Our kids wouldn’t be human if that wasn’t at least somewhere in the back of their minds. The character and grit of our team showed tonight.”

Things started off shaky for Lindale, which trailed 16-12 at the end of the first quarter. But the Eagles took over in the second, led by Jacob Koeshall, who hit three of his four 3-pointers in the quarter. Koeshall finished with a team-high 22 points to go with six rebounds. His play enable the Eagles to enter halftime with a double digit lead, 35-24.

"His growth and confidence from his sophomore year to junior year has been a joy to watch," Grotemat said. "He works so hard when the lights are off in June, July and August so that he can shine bright when the stage is this big. It’s especially gratifying for a kid like him. So poised, first guy in and last guy out mentality. It’s real no surprise. He’s just a cool customer.”

Koeshall was quiet in the second half, with just four points, but his teammates stepped up to keep Burleson at bay. Connery Churchill and Cody Collinsworth both had a solid second half, especially late in the fourth quarter. They finished with a combined 24 points.

The only thing Lindale's defense couldn't seem to contain all evening was Sam Martin. He finished with 27 points to lead all scorers and seemed to try to score each time he touched the ball. Even in the fourth quarter, he kept the game within reach until the very end.

"We tried to keep bodies fresh on him," Grotemat said. "Tried to give him a different look every three or four possessions and keep him from establishing a rhythm. That’s the most important thing. He’s got the green light to shoot it whenever he wants. When a player has that level of freedom, it’s scary."

Burleson held a slight advantage in the rebounding battle, 34-31. Lindale (15-4) advances to play Tyler Lee in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Tyler.

Tyler Lee Cruises Past Jacksonville, 62-43

TYLER -- The Tyler Lee Red Raiders used a team effort to take out Jacksonville, 62-43 in the first round of the Wagstaff Holiday Classic on Thursday.

Ten different Red Raiders scored, with no player reaching double digits. Jamal Jones and Kameron Ross tied for the team lead with nine points apiece.

The game was fairly close throughout the first half, with each team trading blows. At half-time, Tyler Lee held a slim 24-18 advantage. The Red Raiders used a monster third quarter, in which they outscored Jacksonville 23-6, to pull away for good.

Xavier Hunter was the team leader in rebounds, finishing with six to go along with six points. Cason McCuin led Jacksonville with nine points.

Tyler Lee advances to the semifinals, where it will face Lindale at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Tyler.

Cumberland Academy Tops Whitehouse in Defensive Bout, 39-29

TYLER -- At the end of the first quarter, those in attendance were still awaiting the offense.

Although it got better with time, that was the case for most of the game Thursday in a 39-29 victory for Cumberland Academy against Whitehouse in the first round of the Wagstaff Holiday Classic.

The score was tied at 2 after the end of the opening quarter, a sign of how defense-heavy the game would be. Both teams picked up the pace in the second, with the Knights taking a 16-11 lead into halftime.

Cumberland coach Brian Crawford said the game matched the style the Knights have played with all season.

"We're going to be a defensive minded team," he said. "Even when the ball is not falling, we're going to try to stop them and outscore them by one point if we have to. I thought they persevered through that and did a good job of fighting back in the second half."

Gregory Kennedy led the Knights, taking over in the second half. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in the victory to lead Cumberland in both categories.

The Knights also got help from its bench. Sincere Norman didn't start, but finished second in scoring with seven points and added six rebounds.

"He pushed through and did a great job," Crawford said. "He was a great spark off the bench. We hadn't had him for two weeks, but he came back with the right mindset."

Cumberland advances to the semifinals, where it will face Grand Prairie at 7 p.m. Friday at Tyler Junior College.

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