SILSBEE, Texas —
The West Orange-Stark Mustangs braved the elements Friday night and walked away with a victory over the District 21-3A Silsbee Tigers on the Tigers’ homecourt.
WO-S fought through some shaky calls at times and some trash-talking Tigers to come away with their most impressive win of the season as the Mustangs downed the Tigers 72-69.
The win certainly gives Coach Jason Wilkins’ Mustangs some momentum heading into the postseason as WO-S (21-10, 10-2) earned the second-place playoff berth out of 21-3A.
The game was nip-and-tuck throughout but the Mustangs were able to fend off the fierce Tigers (24-8, 11-1) at the end to spoil Silsbee’s Senior Night.
“Tonight’s win was a testament to our kids and the effort that they’ve been putting forth,” said Wilkins. “We’re still a young team, one that’s been working hard to get to this point the last couple years. To come in here and beat such an excellent team like Silsbee, this is a big stepping stone.”
Silsbee will still get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Mustangs will take on whoever is the third-place team out of 22-3A. Third-place Hardin-Jefferson (31-4, 9-3) will face the 22-3A second-place team.
“This one is real special for the kids because we thought we let one get away when we lost to H-J at their place a couple weeks ago,” said Wilkins. “We had to battle against some stuff tonight but our kids had that attitude that they were not going to be denied.”
Junior guard Brandon Joubert led the Mustangs with 18 points and added six rebounds. He was awesome from the free-throw line, going 8-of-10.
Sophomore Chase Rutledge went toe-to-toe against the Tigers as he scored all 12 of his points in the second half and also snared six rebounds.
Tre Spencer gave the Mustangs nine big points in the first half. Post Tyrant Thompson had nine points. Deionte Thompson added eight points and six boards.
WO-S’ leading scorer on the season Laquarious Paige was held to six points but he made key plays down the stretch in setting up the offense and he also yanked down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Guard Chris Elam paced the Tiger attack with 20 points. Jordan Holmes, who scored 36 points in Silsbee’s 79-72 win at WO-S in the first half of district play, finished with 18 points.
Patrick Reed was big for the Tigers in the middle, recording a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards. Post DeVaughn Thomas added six points and eight rebounds.
Joubert put the Mustangs up 68-66 with 1:34 remaining. Holmes tied it up for the Tigers when he converted a steal into a layup with 0:54 left.
Joubert calmly drained two foul shots with 0:41 left to make it 70-68.
Paige missed the front end of a one-and-one with 0;27 and on the other end, Elam pulled up and missed a short jumper and Rutledge snagged the rebound and was fouled with 8.6 seconds left.
Rutledge missed the front end of his one-and-one and then he fouled Tiger guard Zayon Jackson with 6.9 left. Jackson missed his first foul shot but made his second one to trim it to 70-69.
The Tigers fouled Paige, who sealed the deal by converting two free throws with 5.3 left.
Silsbee guard Danti Wilson tried to get a desperation three-pointer up but it was blocked.
The game was tied at 34-34 at the half but the Tigers went on a 8-0 tear to lead 42-34 with 6:10 left in the third. Wilkins quickly called a timeout to calm his troops down and it worked.
WO-S promptly went on a 20-7 tear of their own and a Joubert steal and layup put the Mustangs up 54-49.
At the end of the third period, Rutledge got a clean block on a Wilson three-point attempt at the buzzer. However, the officials put a second back on the clock and Wilson drained all three “charity” attempts to trim it to 54-52 at the end of the quarter.
The Mustangs led 12-11 at the end of the first period as both teams seemed to battle nerves. However, both teams exploded offensively in the second quarter, combining for 45 points.
The Mustangs finished with a 39-37 rebounding edge. Silsbee committed 16 turnovers while the Mustangs had 15.
WO-S finished 17-of-26 from the free-throw line while the Tigers went just 15-of-29.