The Orange Leader
Just when it looked like the West Orange-Stark Mustangs were going to punch their ticket to the Class 3A Region III Finals, the Navasota Rattlers stole it from them in the fourth quarter.
The Rattlers, behind Tren’Davian Dickson and Jerbrell, went on a 22-14 run in the fourth quarter to down the Mustangs 65-61 in the Region III Semifinals at Johnson Coliseum Friday night at Sam Houston State University.
The Mustangs (28-9) led 47-43 at the end of the third after a big third period by post Ty Thompson.
The Rattlers (27-3) responded with seven of the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to tie it up at 50-50 and a Lipscomb trey gave Navasota a 53-50 edge and a lead they would never relinquish.
“We just made some mistakes there in the fourth quarter that this team just didn’t make all year,”said WO-S coach Jason Wilkins. “We hurt ourselves with some foul trouble. I thought our kids off the bench played huge tonight. Give the Navasota kids credit, they earned it. Our kids gave a tremendous effort it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. I think the teams were very evenly matched coming in and we both showed that.”
The Rattlers led by as much as 59-52 after a slashing drive by Dickson with 2:18 left.
The Mustangs, however, would not go away. Two free-throws by Chase Rutledge cut it to 59-57 with 1:34 left.
Lipscomb sank two free-throws to make it 63-59 with 0:43 left. Rutledge countered with a big rebound and putback to cut it to two with 0:10 left.
LaMarquis Jefferson sealed the deal for the Rattlers by sinking two charity shots with 0:09 left.
“I really hate to see it all come to and end,” said Wilkins. “We have such a tremendous senior class. I’m going to miss these guys. Four rounds deep in the playoffs is a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of them.”
Dickson and Lipscomb combined for 15 fourth-quarter points. Dickson finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Lipscomb had 12 points and Jefferson finished with 10. Jabril Hunter added nine points and seven boards for the Rattlers while Josh Lowery had six rebounds.
Ty Thompson led the Mustangs with 14 points and contributed seven rebounds. Rutledge finished with 11 points. Mustang senior standout Laquarious Paige, saddled with foul trouble throughout, finished with eight points and five boards. He fouled out with 0:43 remaining. Corey Carcisse had eight points while Deionte Thompson added seven points and five rebounds before fouling out 5:18 remaining.
WO-S finished with a 38-36 rebounding edge.
Navasota finished with 21 turnovers while the Mustangs had 20. WO-S was 12-of-18 from the free-throw line while the Rattlers went just 13-of-25.
The Mustangs shredded the Rattlers early in the third period behind the inside prowess of Ty Thompson.
Thompson ignited a 12-1 run, scoring three critical buckets in the paint. His last one gave WO-S a 43-35 edge with 3:12 in the third.
“I thought we were in pretty good shape there in the third quarter,” said Wilkins. “We struggled on the offensive end to start the fourth quarter and No. 23 (Lipscomb) really hurt us with a couple threes.”
However, the feisty Rattlers scrapped right back. Desmond Henderson buried a three-pointer to trim it to 44-38.
A Dickson dunk and a Jabril Hunter bucket cut the gap to 44-42.
Carcisse gave WO-S some breathing room after he buried a three-pointer before the end of the period as the Mustangs led 47-43 at the end of the third period.
The Rattlers will face Houston Yates in the Region III Finals today at 1:30 p.m.
Yates defeated Mexia 87-69 in the first game of the night.
With leading scorers on the season Paige and Rutledge in foul trouble in the first half, the Mustangs got nice bench production to stay within range of the Rattlers by the end of the half.
Navasota led 17-12 at the end of the first period. With his team trailing 13-7, Carcisse buried a big three-pointer to make it 13-10 to sink some Rattler momentum.
The Rattlers were hot early to start the second period as they built up a 25-15 lead. Dickson poured in five of the points in the mini-spurt while Jefferson had four points.
Ty Thompson led a nice Mustang run and his big basket in the paint trimmed the Rattler lead to 27-25 with 3:40 in the half. Rutledge tied things up at 29-29 with a nice drive with 2:12 left and the Mustangs snagged the lead at 31-29 with 1:40 left when post Tavin Terrell got a nice rebound and putback.
The Rattlers, however, responded with the half’s last five points and a big slam dunk by Dickson gave them a 34-31 cushion at intermission.
With Paige scoring just three points and Rutledge two in the half, WO-S got 16 points from its bench with Carcisse scoring five and Terrell and Tre Spencer scoring four apiece. Terrell had six rebounds as well in the first 16 minutes.
Dickson had 11 points for the Rattlers and Jefferson had seven points. Jabril Hunter led Navasota with five first-half rebounds.