MOUNT VERNON, Texas – Texas High’s frustration in the boys playoffs came to an end Monday night when the Tigers humbled Pine Tree in a Region II-5A bi-district encounter, 90-54.
The Tigers have advanced to the postseason several times during the last decade, but couldn’t get past the first round. Texas High advances to the area round to play Red Oak or Kaufman. Those schools play Tuesday night.
”One of their best players (J.J. Sparkman) fouled out early, which seemed to really fire our guys up,” said Texas High coach Keith Jones. “I told the guys we had to have a big third quarter if we were going to win, and we did. It just snowballed on Pine Tree after that.”
It certainly wasn’t shocking that the Tigers were led by senior guard Kyle Wright and 6-7 junior postman C.J. Kelley. Both were spectacular at times, and their supporting cast played extremely well, too.
Wright, Kelley shine for Tigers again
Both Wright and Kelley had double-doubles. Wright scored 11 of his 24 points in the first quarter to help Texas High build a 23-16 lead at the first break. Wright also had 11 assists, penetrating the paint and dishing off to Kelley for easy layups or dunks. Kelley finished with a game-high 25 points and 20 rebounds. He also blocked five shots.
Jones substituted for all of his starters in the final minutes of the game. Wright and Kelley bowed out hugging and high-fiving everyone, including the radio announcers. Kelley got hugs, and so did senior Cole Drumm, who was the third Tiger in double digits with 17 points.
Pine Tree (24-11) gave the Tigers a scare early after THS had built a 17-7 lead in the first six minutes of the game. The Pirates started the second period with an 8-0 run to capture a 24-23 lead, but that didn’t stop the Wright-Kelley Show. Wright converted two free throws with 3:33 left in the half, then hit from inside. Twice, Kelley grabbed offensive rebounds and scored, one a thunderous dunk.
A conventional three-point play by Kelley was followed by a Wright free throw for a 46-37 lead at the start of the second half. Kelley scored again off an assist by Wright.
There was 5:34 showing on the clock when Sparkman drew his fifth foul. The Tigers outscored Pine Tree 41-15 after the 6-5 Sparkman left the floor.