featureChisum’s Cinderella run comes to a close after stumbling to Tatum in Regional Semifinals
Chisum’s Cinderella run comes to a close after stumbling to Tatum in Regional Semifinals

Chisum’s Cinderella run comes to a close after stumbling to Tatum in Regional Semifinals

All good things must come to an end in life. Unfortunately, this was the case Friday night at Athens High School for the Chisum Mustangs. The Mustangs, who faced the No. 7 Tatum Eagles in the Regional Semifinals, hung tough early on in their first fourth-round appearance in nearly 40 years.

However, the Eagles flexed their muscles with a dominant second quarter to open up a large lead and, in the end, the clock struck midnight for the Mustangs as their historic Cinderella postseason run came to a halt after stumbling 76-36 to Tatum.

“I told the kids after the game that they are near and dear to my heart because they accomplished so much, but they also got me over the hump of getting bounced in the first round as a coach,” Mustangs head basketball coach Brian Temple said. “This team, they fought to the very end. That team right there (Tatum) is a State contender — they have a chance to win it all. Even to be on the floor with them is an honor, and I’m so proud these kids got to experience it.”

Impressively, Chisum was the last fourth-seeded playoff team remaining in the state of Texas coming into this matchup with Tatum. The Mustangs hung tough early on as they trailed Tatum 14-8 after one quarter of play.

Then, the floodgates opened.

Tatum opened the second quarter with a lightning-quick 14-0 run that saw Chisum call a timeout trailing 26-8 with 6:28 still remaining before halftime. Junior guard Jett Petkus nailed a pull-up midrange jumper with 4:38 left to trim the deficit to 28-10 as Chisum seemed poised to make a run. However, Tatum took full control of the game as it finished the second quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 40-10 halftime lead into the locker room. 

In spite of the score, Temple implored his team to dig deep and continue to chip away in the contest.

“My message at the half to them was to not quit,” Temple said. “We came this far and I told them it would be a shame for them to stop fighting now. We made a few adjustments to our press break, but like I said, these kids never quit fighting. That’s what I am most proud of. I could care less about the score. Just to be here is an exciting time, and these kids have made our town and community so proud — I couldn’t be happier for them.”

The Mustangs could not get closer than 28 points in the second half but continued to leave it on the court as their coach pushed them too. In the end, Tatum cruised to the win despite an spirited effort down the stretch from Chisum.

Worm Price led Chisum with a team-high 9 points while Evan Wood had 7 points. Chisum’s lone senior Levi Weems finished his last basketball game for Chisum with 6 points while Petkus also scored 6 points. Rylan Boutwell tallied 4 points while junior point guard Keaston Lawrence added 3 points despite playing through a leg injury. Brayden Brown also chipped in with 1 point and pulled down several rebounds in the interior. Eagles senior Jayden Boyd led Tatum with a game-high 18 points.

Up next: short- and long-term

The future seems to remain bright for the Mustangs basketball program as Weems will be the only departure from this year’s Regional Semifinalist team. Although his void will be felt, Temple is proud of his squad, who he is eager to run it back with next season.

“For me as a coach, just getting over that first-round hump we’ve fallen into the last few years, and not to just get past it, but to do it with so many obstacles put in front of us along the way to get to the fourth round of the playoffs — I can’t say enough about this team,” Temple said. “We have everyone coming back but Levi (Weems) next year, and Levi is going to be a big hole to fill. I can’t say enough about his senior leadership through this playoff run, the way he defended, and how he just stepped up as our leader in this time. I can’t be more proud of him, and he’s not done — I can’t wait to see him compete in baseball.”

The Mustangs (20-9, 6-6) saw their season come to an end Friday night while the Eagles stunned Dallas Madison in the Regional Final 61-54 to represent Region II in the Class 3A State Semifinals. Tatum (24-3, 12-0) will face Brock (29-3, 14-1) in an all-Eagles State Semifinal at 6 p.m.Tuesday at Corsicana High School. For more sports coverage, click here.

BOX SCORE

TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F

Chisum 8 2 10 16 36

Tatum 14 26 21 15 76

Chisum scorers: Price, 9; Wood, 7; Petkus, 6; Weems, 6; R. Boutwell, 4; Lawrence, 3; Brown, 1

Tatum scorers: Boyd, 18; Allison, 8; Fuller, 8; Malone, 7; Walton, 7; Williams, 7; Anthony, 5; Crowley, 5; Bridges, 4; Fite, 2; Webb, 2; Beall, 1

Chisum FGM: Petkus, 3; Price, 2; Weems, 2; Wood, 2; Boutwell, 1; Lawrence, 1

Tatum FGM: Boyd, 7; Allison, 3; Fuller, 3; Williams, 3; Anthony, 2; Crowley, 2; Malone, 2

Chisum 3PFGM: Weems, 2; Lawrence, 1; Wood, 1

Tatum 3PFGM: Allison, 2; Boyd, 1; Bridges, 1; Malone, 1; Williams, 1

Chisum FT: 10-21; Price, 5-6; Boutwell, 2-2; Wood, 2-2; Brown, 1-2; Petkus, 0-8

Tatum FT: 16-21; Walton, 5-6; Boyd, 3-3; Fuller, 2-2; Malone, 2-2; Anthony, 1-2; Beall, 1-2;  Bridges, 1-2; Crowley, 1-2

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