Lindale storms back from late deficit to stun Paris 59-54 in Regional Quarterfinals
The No. 17 Paris Wildcats were aiming to punch their ticket to the Regional Semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons on Saturday against the No. 24 Lindale Eagles at Sulphur Springs High School. The Wildcats looked prime for another crack at the likes of Dallas Carter and Oak Cliff Faith Family in regionals this year for most of the game. However, a furious late rally from Lindale coupled with a flurry of questionable calls ended in a 59-54 win for the Eagles in this top-25 clash in the Regional Quarterfinals.
The Wildcats were firmly in control of this Regional Quarterfinal matchup in the second quarter and throughout most of the second half. For the majority of the game, Paris looked poised to advance to the Regional Semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons.
“We felt good about everything and we were hitting wide-open threes, executing, and we were running our halfcourt offense well,” Wildcats head basketball coach Billy Mack Steed said. “To be honest, I thought we outplayed them for four quarters.”
Junior guard Micah Jenkins hit a floater in the lane with 7 seconds left to close the first quarter with a 16-13 lead, then senior Jeremerious Morgan and junior Garrius Savage nailed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to open the second quarter. After that, Savage threw down a one-handed dunk on the break over a Lindale defender midway through the second quarter to stretch the lead to 27-15.
All the momentum was in the Wildcats’ corner as Paris held a 32-24 halftime lead that grew to a 43-34 advantage after three quarters of play. It was more of the same to begin the fourth quarter as Savage rattled off five straight points to open the frame and increase Paris’ lead to 48-34 with 6:06 left in regulation. Paris held a 52-39 lead with 4:37 left in the fourth, but Lindale managed to storm back.
The Eagles put together a quick 8-0 run that spanned just over a minute of game time, pulling Lindale to within 52-47 with 3:22 left. After that, Walter Smith of Lindale knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner to put the Eagles ahead 53-52 with 2:11 left, the Eagles’ first lead of the game since an early 2-0 advantage.
During Lindale’s furious rally, the officiating seemed questionable to the Paris bench as several 50-50 balls and foul calls fell in the Eagles’ favor down the stretch, even though some of the calls appeared to be questionable. Specifically, a game-changing call under the goal proved too much to overcome.
“The one call just totally changed the game. It should have been our ball with a seven point lead but that’s just a turnaround that’s hard to overcome,” Steed said. “They made several questionable calls and it seemed like every single one went against us. I get the close calls, but it is strange when it goes for one team.”
Nonetheless, the Wildcats fought until the final buzzer. Savage connected on a driving layup with 1:30 left to put Paris in front 54-53, but it was Paris’ final lead of the game as Lindale closed the contest out by scoring the game’s final six points.
Lee led Paris with 12 points while Jenkins and Savage each had 11 for the Wildcats. Braylon Mickens and K.D. Washington scored 6 points apiece for Paris while Bubba Gray and Morgan each added 5 points. Colton Taylor scored a game-high 29 points to lead Lindale.
Paris will lose its entire varsity roster to graduation minus four juniors in Jenkins, Lee, Mickens, and Savage. Losing their quality seniors will be tough to bounce back from, but Steed is excited to bring back a core group with other young, hopeful players to place around them on the court, too.
“We are going to miss all these seniors. They’re good kids and they played hard. We do have four kids coming back and we have a chance to have a good team,” Steed said. “We just need to find some pieces to find around those four and make a good run. We have one of the best players around here, he has a high ceiling that can do a lot of things. We have a good shooter, a good point guard, and a good post player that can do some things inside. Hopefully, we can find some good pieces next year. We have the potential to be a good team.”
The Wildcats season came to a close while Lindale will face Dallas Carter in the Regional Semifinals with matchup details to be announced. For more sports coverage, click here.
TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F
Paris 16 16 11 11 54
Lindale 13 11 10 25 59
Paris scorers: Lee, 12; Jenkins, 11; Savage, 11; Mickens, 6; Washington, 6; Gray, 5; Morgan, 5
Lindale scorers: Taylor, 29; Smith, 12; Jackson, 10; Wood, 6; Johnson, 2
Paris FGM: Jenkins, 4; Savage, 4; Lee, 3; Mickens, 3; Gray, 2; Morgan, 2; Washington, 1
Lindale FGM: Taylor, 10; Smith, 5; Jackson, 3; Wood, 1
Paris 3PFGM: Jenkins, 3; Gray, 1; Lee, 1; Savage, 1
Lindale 3PFGM: Smith, 2; Taylor, 1
Paris FT: 9-13; Lee, 5-6; Washington, 4-4; Mickens, 0-1; Savage, 0-2
Lindale FT: 18-24; Taylor, 8-9; Jackson, 4-6; Wood, 4-6; Johnson, 2-2