Texarkana basketball fans probably felt like they were taking a ride in a time machine watching four local schoolboy standouts Saturday night at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.
The Patterson Student Center was packed with more than a thousand partisan supporters watching the Eagles win their first-ever men’s and women’s games in school history.
All four of TAMU-T’s hometown players contributed big in helping the Eagles’ men beat Champion Christian College, 97-68. Pleasant Grove graduate Connor Ouellette poured in 20 points to support leading scorer Anthony McGee, who scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the first half.
Local athletes score half of Eagles’ points
Liberty-Eylau alumnus Decorion Phillips added 13 points, including a spectacular one-handed dunk that had everyone on their feet, even a few of the visitors. Local Aaron Harmon came off the bench to score 9 points, while contributing a team-high 3 assists. Texas High graduate Kyle Wright had 5 points.
“I’ll always take a win at home,” said TAMU-T’s first head coach Ryan Wall. “Obviously, we’ve got to continue to get better. We hang our hat on what Connor does day-in and day-out. He’s our leader, but not the only player on our team that plays with great energy.”
Pressing from the opening tipoff until the final buzzer, the Eagles’ swarming defenders forced 19 turnovers, including 8 steals. McGee had 3 of those steals.
TAMU-T players get hot in second half
Texarkana shot a cool 39 percent in the first 20 minutes, but still led 38-27 at intermission. Nine of the 10 Eagles in uniform scored in the second half as TAMU-T shot a blistering 62 percent. The host team also made 19 of 20 free throws.
The Tigers managed to hang close most of the game because TAMU-T got in early foul trouble with its’ aggressive play. Four Eagles eventually fouled out of the game.
“Eventually we will be able to press without fouling a lot,” said Wall. “It’s a growing pain because of our style of play.”
Despite a size advantage, Champion Christian (0-1) was outrebounded by the Eagles, 34-28. Jo Phillips of Flint, Mich., led the Tigers with 16 points. Cameron Dismuke of Little Rock added 13, with De’Andre Butler scoring 12.
The Eagles will be back in action Monday night at home against Dillard University. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m.