The rubber match between the North Lamar Panthers and the Pleasant Grove Hawks wasn't just another game. The two district rivals hooked up for a chance to represent the district in the Regional Tournament this weekend in Commerce.
The two teams split their district meetings earlier in the season. Pleasant Grove won on January 22 in Texarkana 64-45 while North Lamar returned the favor at home a couple weeks later. This time, it would be the Panthers who once again came out on top as they defeated the Hawks 57-47.
Things didn't start off well for North Lamar as they found themselves down 9-3 to start the ball game. Menderiz Gray got North Lamar rolling, though, as he drained a three-point basket. The Panthers would end the quarter on a 9-1 run to take a 12-10 lead heading to the second.
Versache Buchanan drained a three to open the second quarter for North Lamar. It was his first of two in the frame. The Panthers jumped out to a 24-15 lead midway through the second quarter. This was thanks, in part, to the play of Tyler Hill coming off the bench. Pleasant Grove would score six straight points after a timeout to cut the lead to three. A three pointer by Hill and a driving layup by Gray would close out the half for North Lamar with a 29-21 lead.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter. North Lamar scored five of its 11 points at the free throw line. Buckets by Levi Porter, Jake Stewart and Gray were the only offense North Lamar could manage besides the free throws. Yet the still held onto a 40-35 lead heading to the fourth.
During the final frame, North Lamar did what they had to do to get the victory. They went to the free throw line a lot as Pleasant Grove was trying to foul. Versache knocked down a couple of big three point shots for the Panthers. In the end, it was North Lamar cheering as they held on for a ten point victory.
With the win, the Panthers advance to the Regional Semifinals for the first time in 35 years. North Lamar will face Triple A at 8:00 pm at Texas A&M Commerce. The first Semifinal will be Paris High and Lincoln at 6:00.
North Lamar 12 17 11 17 57
Pleasant Grove 10 11 14 12 47
Versache Buchanan - 19 points, 7 rebounds
Levi Porter - 14 points, 7 rebounds
Menderiz Gray - 10 points, 11 rebounds
Tyler Hill - 6 points, 2 rebounds
Grant Erickson - 4 points, 9 rebounds
Jake Stewart - 4 points, 5 rebounds
Javon Franklin - 1 rebound