Chisum upends Whitesboro in gritty, low-scoring affair in Area
For the first time in 15 years, the Chisum Mustangs won a playoff game on Saturday against the Bells Panthers. Chisum’s 59-48 Bi-District win was impressive as the fourth-seeded Mustangs took down Bells, which won District 11-3A.
On Tuesday night, the Mustangs faced the Whitesboro Bearcats in the Area Round at Bonham High School. In the second-round contest, Chisum and Whitesboro battled it out in a low-scoring affair, and the Mustangs had enough fuel from their supporters to hold off the Bearcats down the stretch in a compelling 40-37 victory.
“We fed off the energy of the crowd and the kids live for these big moments like this with packed arenas,” Mustangs head basketball coach Brian Temple said. “Our fans and community did a great job of traveling and our kids fed off of it. I thought we did a really good job of causing some trouble with their posts, closing out on jump shooters, and especially taking charges, which is my favorite thing we did well. Any time they were attacking, we were set up and ready for it. Evan Wood took six charges on his own, Jett (Petkus) took a couple and Espn (Blyton) and Keaston (Lawrence) both took one — we had more than 10 charges which has to be a school record. It was just a fantastic job.”
“The energy that we have really brings everything up with our game,” Mustangs junior Jett Petkus said. “Whether it was me or Evan taking a charge or someone making a play on defense, we would feed off it, and go down and score.”
Overcoming a slow start
The two teams trudged through a defensive-focused first quarter, which ended in a 4-4 tie with a flurry of charges sprinkled in. Whitesboro opened the second quarter with a 10-7 lead but the Mustangs began to come alive to reclaim the advantage.
Levi Weems was trapped on the baseline but found point guard Keaston Lawrence cutting to the basket, where he finished the layup after receiving a nice wraparound pass from Weems to cut the deficit to 10-9 with 4:42 left before the half. After a bucket from Whitesboro, Petkus drained a corner 3-pointer with 3:21 left then he swished two free throws with 2:22 left to put the Mustangs ahead 14-11. Lawrence outscored 4-2 to close out the half with his team ahead 18-15.
Driving hard to turn the game around
The teams remained in a stalemate at 18-15 until the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, where junior guard Worm Price took over. He stole the ball from a Whitesboro player and raced down the court as he finished an old-fashioned three-point play to stretch the lead to 21-15.
“My shot wasn’t falling so I had to keep driving,” Chisum junior guard Worm Price said. “In order for my shot to fall, I had to keep driving to the rack. But ultimately, defense wins you ball games and our defense won us this ball game.”
After the Bearcats got a bucket on the ensuing possession, Price drove and finished at the rim again with 1:13 left in the third, then again with 2 seconds left around a pair of Whitesboro free throws to propel Chisum into the fourth quarter with a 25-19 lead. Price’s dribble penetration proved to be a spark for his team.
“Coach (Dustin) Cope is a great offensive mind and he’s been helping offensively with some four-out and five-out motion sets for games like this,” Temple said. “We didn’t realize how big they were (Whitesboro) because it can be kind of deceptive on film, but we knew we needed to spread things out to allow our guards to attack and get inside the paint. That’s what they did and Worm (Price) did a good job of attacking and finishing at the rim in the third quarter. He kind of took over that game offensively for us.”
The successful dribble penetration was also a disruptive force to Whitesboro’s defense, coupled with the Mustangs’ ability to defend at a high level.
“We allowed way too much midline penetration by their guards that hurt us a lot,” Bearcats head basketball coach Toby Sluder said. “Offensively, we did not shoot the ball well, but that’s partly due to good defense from them. I’m not just going to say we weren’t shooting it well when they had hands in our faces and took seven or more charges. It is what it is. We missed too many shots inside, and they’re a good team for a fourth-place team. They’re very athletic and I’m surprised they finished fourth. Their district must have been really tough over there.”
A photo finish
Price continued to carve up the Bearcats defense in the fourth quarter and Chisum’s lead grew as large as 29-21 on a layup from Evan Wood with 5:23 left in regulation. However, Whitesboro clawed its way back into the game in a hurry. Down by eight points, the Bearcats responded with a 12-3 run, which was highlighted by three 3-pointers. The last came off the hands of Jackson Kupper, who’s triple gave Whitesboro a 33-32 lead with 2:17 left in the fourth. With the odds suddenly flipped upside down, Chisum did not panic.
“We just knew we didn’t want to go home yet,” Price said. “We kept pushing until we won it.”
Lawrence connected on a driving layup with 2:02 left to put Chisum back ahead for good at 34-33. Chisum was able to match Whitesboro bucket for bucket until the very end. Price split a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 40-37, and Torran Naglestan of Whitesboro saw his last-second 3-pointer rim out at the buzzer, which sealed it for Chisum.
Price led Chisum with 15 points while Lawrence added 11 points. Wood and Petkus also scored 7 points apiece for the Mustangs. Naglestan led Whitesboro with 15 points.
The Mustangs have already made history and Temple knows it did not come by accident.
“The success we are having is so unbelievable and I’m proud of these kids, and credit to them and how hard they’ve worked every single day for me,” Temple said. “All my plays look great if they execute them, and that’s what they do…I’m so proud of these kids and I hope we can keep it going whoever we play next.”
To say the least, the Mustangs are ready and eager to run it back in the upcoming third round.
“It’s one of the best things of my life right now, honestly,” Petkus said of playing in the postseason. “It’s fun. There’s no other way to describe it other than how fun it has been.”
The Mustangs will face the winner of Whitewright and Keene in the Regional Quarterfinals with matchup details to be announced. For more sports coverage, click here.
TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F
Chisum 4 14 7 15 40
Whitesboro 4 11 4 18 37
Chisum scorers: Price, 15; Lawrence, 11; Wood, 7; Petkus, 7
Whitesboro scorers: Naglestan, 15; Kupper, 10; Harper, 7; Price, 3; Hermes, 2
Chisum FGM: Price, 6; Lawrence, 4; Wood, 3; Petkus, 2
Whitesboro FGM: Naglestan, 4; Harper, 3; Kupper, 3; Hermes, 1; Price, 1
Chisum 3PFGM: Petkus, 1; Wood, 1
Whitesboro 3PFGM: Kupper, 2; Naglestan, 2; Price, 1
Chisum FT: 8-16; Price, 3-4; Lawrence, 3-8; Petkus, 2-2; Wood, 0-2
Whitesboro FT: 8-10; Naglestan, 5-6; Kupper, 2-3; Harper, 1-1