Mustangs surge past Whitewright, reach fourth round for first time in 40 years
For the first time in four decades, the Chisum Mustangs boys basketball team won its Regional Quarterfinal matchup in the postseason. On Saturday night, the Mustangs took the lead late and then took down the fellow fourth-seeded Whitewright Tigers by a final score of 59-49 at Anna High School.
“We are the last four-seed in Texas in any classification. We are the last fourth seed,” Chisum junior guard Evan Wood said. “We just want to keep proving people wrong. We finally found our stride and we couldn’t find a better time to hit it.”
In a battle of two fourth-place teams, the Mustangs trailed the entire game until senior Levi Weems’ free throw make with 3:44 left in regulation gave Chisum the lead for good at 47-46. For Weems, the free-throw make was pivotal in Chisum’s win and the win marked a key milestone achievement for Weems, the team’s lone senior.
“It’s really special because I haven’t gotten past the second round in any sport, and to go to the fourth round in basketball is incredible,” Weems said. “I will remember this forever.”
After trailing by as many as eight points and seeming to have to fight to just stay within striking distance, the comeback victory was one to remember for the Mustangs.
“I tell these kids and my wife knows as well how little I have slept during this time,” Mustangs head basketball coach Brian Temple said. “I can’t say how proud I am of these kids and how resilient they are. We were down by eight points in the second half, but there’s no quit in them. They’ve shown that all year. We’ve down by 22 at a point in a game this season and fought back to send it to overtime. These kids, man, I can’t express enough how proud I am of them. Punching our ticket to the Regional Tournament is something special.”
“I said it after the last game and it still doesn’t feel real,” Wood said. “There’s no feeling like it. You can’t replicate it any other way — it’s awesome.”
The turning point
Whitewright opened the game up on an 8-1 run to make Chisum sweat early, but five points in a row from junior point guard Keaston Lawrence got the Mustangs back in the mix trailing just 8-6 early in the first quarter. For the duration of the first three quarters, Whitewright held between a one- and eight-point lead over the Mustangs, who could not get over the hump until the fourth quarter.
“We ran a box-and-one defense on number two (Aaron Pitt) there in the fourth quarter, and we held their team to four points in the fourth quarter,” Temple said. “We did a fantastic job of defending him knowing that’s who they wanted to go to, blocking out on the glass, and getting them out of an offensive rhythm. I can’t say enough about how well Jett (Petkus) did taking him away along with everyone else flying around. It was awesome.”
Chisum was dominant in the fourth quarter which started on defense while junior guard Worm Price kept plenty of pressure on the Tigers’ defense by scoring 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. The Mustangs limited Whitewright to just four points in the fourth quarter while junior guard Jett Petkus led the defensive charge in holding Tigers standout Aaron Pitt to zero points after scoring 20 points in the game’s first three quarters. The Mustangs also made 16 of their 19 free throws attempts in the final frame to keep Whitewright at bay.
Price led Chisum with a game-high 25 points while Lawrence added 11 points. Wood scored 9 points while Petkus had 7 points. Weems recorded 4 points and Espn Blyton registered 3 points. Aaron Pitt led Whitewright with 20 points.
Plenty of positive momentum has been building for Chisum during the season and it continues to grow as their postseason journey continues. Remembering what is most important has been integral to Chisum’s success.
“We really figured it out, started playing as a team, and we quit being selfish,” Weems said. “We started running and doing what we do best, and it has paid off.”
“At the end of every pregame speech to have fun, enjoy these lifelong moments, and to play with composure,” Temple said. “That’s what they’ve done these last three games, and I can’t reiterate how proud I am of this group and how much they deserve it.”
The Mustangs will compete in the Regional Semifinals against the No. 7-ranked Tatum Eagles at 6 p.m. Friday at Athens High School. For more sports coverage, click here.
TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F
Chisum 12 14 13 20 59
Whitewright 14 15 15 5 49
Chisum scorers: Price, 25; Lawrence, 11; Wood, 9; Petkus, 7; Weems, 4; Blyton, 3
Whitewright scorers: Pitt, 20; Kenneman, 10; Evans, 8; Cox-Dunlap, 6; Carraway, 4; Daniels,1
Chisum FGM: Price, 7; Lawrence, 3; Wood, 3; Petkus, 2; Blyton, 1; Weems, 1
Whitewright FGM: Pitt, 9; Evans, 4; Kenneman, 4; Cox-Dunlap, 3; Carraway, 2
Chisum 3PFGM: Price, 3; Blyton, 1; Lawrence, 1; Petkus, 1; Weems, 1
Whitewright 3PFGM: Pitt, 2; Kenneman, 1
Chisum FT: 18-26; Price, 8-10; Lawrence, 4-7; Wood, 3-3; Petkus, 2-4; Weems, 1-2
Whitewright FT: 2-3; Kenneman, 1-1; Daniels, 1-2