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Tigers fend off Mustangs late, 71-67

WEST ORANGE – The West Orange-Stark Mustangs sustained a few nice leads against Silsbee Friday night but they just couldn’t sustain it at the end as the Tigers escaped Mustang Gym with a 71-67 District 22-4A victory.

The Tigers (10-11, 7-3) leaned on freshmen standouts Jared Hughes and Dre’lon Miller late to turn back the Mustangs (10-13, 5-5).

The two combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter and Hughes buried three long three-point daggers in the period that aided the win.

The game was tied at 63-63 with 2:32 left but the Tigers made some key defensive stops and made crucial free-throws down the stretch. Silsbee led 71-65 in the waning seconds as WO-S standout forward Michael Wardlow capped the night with a dunk.

Wardlow led the Mustangs with a game-high 22 points and had five rebounds. Post Quintin Proctor had a nice outing as well, finishing with 18 points and five boards. Fellow post Rocedric Papillion contributed nine points and seven rebounds while guard Adrian Crochett-Hernandez had eight points and ripped two big three-pointers in the second quarter as WO-S led 39-35 at the half.

Miller led the Tiger arsenal with 21 points and seven rebounds while Miller had 17 points. Lamarcus Bottley had a smooth game for the Tigers as well, finishing with 13 points and he drained two crucial three-point bombs in the second half.

The Mustangs led 46-39 midway through the third but the Tigers closed with a 9-4 spurt to trim the WO-S edge to 50-48 heading to the fourth.

WO-S’ biggest lead of the night came with 3:30 left in the half when they held a 34-23 edge but Silsbee closed strong to trim it to a four-point deficit at the half.

Wardlow had 14 points and Proctor 12 in the first half for the Mustangs. Hughes ignited a late Tiger spark in the second quarter with eight points in the final three minutes of the half.

The Mustangs finished with a 31-27 rebounding edge.

Darren Anderson had five boards for the Mustangs while Jayce Joiner had six rebounds for the Tigers.

WO-S finished with 19 turnovers while the Tigers had 17.

The Mustangs were a solid 16-of-20 from the free-throw line while the Tigers almost went to the line twice as much as they finished 23-of-36.

WO-S remains one win away from clinching a playoff berth. Lumberton (18-6, 10-1) claimed the outright 22-4A title Friday with a nail-biting 63-59 win over Bridge City (16-8, 6-4). Silsbee is in second while Bridge City is in third, one game ahead of the Mustangs. Orangefield (15-10, 4-7) remains in the hunt with a 74-68 win over LC-M Friday. WO-S can clinch a berth with a win at Bridge City Tuesday or at home against Lumberton next Friday. Orangefield can only tie and have a play-in game with the Mustangs if the Bobcats defeat Vidor at home Tuesday and WO-S loses its final two games.