the News Photo/Ryan Moulds
Cross Roads senior Moises Alvarado knocks down a free throw to complete a 3-point play in his team’s March 1 playoff loss to Eustace. Alvarado finished the game with 15 points.
By Ryan Moulds
The News Staff Writer
EUSTACE–The Kerens Bobcats topped the Cross Roads Bobcats 73-69 in a thriller of a playoff game at E.L. Kirk Gymnasium in Eustace, March 1. The two teams played twice in the regular season as district foes and split their match ups.
“I’m disappointed for our kids,” Cross Roads coach Bo Martin said. “They played their tails off. We were down 14 and could have given up but they never quit and continued to fight all the way to the end. We didn’t lose the game we just ran out of time.”
“We had a lot of young kids battling their hearts out tonight,” Kerens coach Brock Ramsey said. “We have had double and triple overtime games and we have always battled and fought no matter what the odds are. Cross Roads is a great team and we knew that they weren’t going to give up. They battled hard and got after our tails but our kids played hard and moved on to play on in the next round.”
Cross Roads got out to a fast start with senior guard Aaron Arden getting into the paint for several good looks and layups. Cross Roads was up 7-0 before Kerens finally got a shot to go in. Kerens started hitting 3-point shots to cut into the lead. Tristan Evans, Buddy Sayles and Taymont Lindsey all hit 3-point shots for Kerens in the first quarter.
Just when it looked like Kerens was going to take the lead Moises Alvarado was fouled on a layup and was able to hit the free throw to complete a 3-point play for Cross Raods. The teams continued to trade baskets and Cross Roads was up 17-16 at the end of the opening quarter.
Lindsey started the second quarter off on fire for Kerens. The sophomore hit several big shots to give his team the lead and carried them for most of the quarter. He had 10 points in the second quarter.
Cross Roads slowed down offensively in the second quarter. They had a hard time getting looks and stopping runs by Kerens. BJ Jenkins and Taylor McKenzie hit 3-pointers to limit the damage but Kerens still outscored Cross Roads 18-12 in the quarter. Kerens led the game 34-29 at halftime.
Kerens came out of halftime shooting well and they quickly built up a 14 point lead thanks to lights out shooting and a balanced offensive attack. Six different players scored for Kerens in the third quarter.
Just when it looked like Kerens was going to pull away, up 48-34, Cross Roads employed it’s press like they had done all year and forced turnovers. The turnovers quickly turned into points and Kerens saw their lead cut down to 48-43. Kerens was able to score four points during the run to limit the bleeding but Cross Roads eventually tied the game at 52 on a deep 3-pointer by Alvarado with five seconds left in the quarter. Cross Roads out scored Kerens 23-18 in the quarter and the two teams went into the fourth quarter all tied up.
Cross Roads took their first lead of the second half on a basket by Clayton Flowers in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Kerens fought back with Lindsey going coast to coast with a layup to tie the game again. The teams went back and fourth until the final two minutes of the game.
Cross Roads was down by one with 50 seconds left in the game. Senior Hunter Davis went to the free throw line with a chance to give his team the leasd but both of his free throws were off the back iron and Kerens controlled the rebound. The two teams traded baskets with Cross Roads intentionally fouling to extend the game. Bubba Faulk hit a free throw with five seconds left to put Kerens up by four and to seal the 73-69 victory.
“I’m glad that we came through tonight and played as a team tonight,” Lindsey said after the game. “We are looking forward to playing in the regional tournament and bringing a championship to Kerens. Our fans have been with us all season and we do this because of them.”
“It feels great to advance in the playoffs” said Faulk. “Last year I was here with a bunch of seniors and it feels good to make this run with my classmates. We didn’t play our best tonight but we did enough to get the win and overall I’m happy with tonight.”
Arden led Cross Roads in scoring with 18 points. Also scoring for Cross Roads were Alvarado with 15, Flowers with 11, Davis with 10, McKenzie with seven, Blake McCracken with four and Jenkins with three.
Lindsey led Kerens in scoring with 27 points. Also scoring for Kerens were Evans with 11, Qua Lawrence and Katerius Douglas with 10 each, Sayles with seven and Faulk with four.