Down several starters going into the Paris Holiday Tournament, the North Lamar Panthers would be tested each and every game. The goal in every tournament is to win. Since only one team can win, though, it's also important for teams to start playing cohesively. Especially with district play right around the corner.
This is what North Lamar needed to happen. It would be hard with several team members not able to play (due to UIL tournament rules). With district play two weeks away, North Lamar wanted to start perfecting some things offensively and defensively.
The team went 1-4 in the tournament. Although that doesn't sound like a good record, you have to look at the complete picture. During the tournament, North Lamar played Teague (Ranked 7th in Class 3A), Paris High (Ranked 17th in Class 4A), Hot Springs (won tournament last year), Hope and Lufkin-Hudson.
Some of the surprises of the tournament was the play from the bench. Bryalon Perrin came off the bench and gave the Panthers a huge lift. In their 55-42 loss to Hope, Arkansas Perrin gave the Panthers 10 points while coming off the bench. He knocked down a couple of big three's as well in that game. Menderiz Gray finished with 13 in the game.
The next game was the big game for North Lamar. They played Lufkin Hudson in the final game of pool play. North Lamar trailed by 17 points with three minutes to play in the half at 27-10. Once again it was the bench play that helped spark the turnaround. Perrin finished with 18 points off the bench. Gray had 25 for North Lamar as they came back to win 64-55. The defense also helped fuel the comeback as North Lamar had nine steals in the game.
This setup a matchup with crosstown rival Paris High. The game was somewhat close through the first quarter with Paris leading 12-8. It was the Jalon Pipkins show too as he scored all 12 points for Paris. As a matter of fact, he scored the first 15 points of the game for Paris High. Paris would pull away and win easily 66-42. Josh Daingerfield led the way for North Lamar with 15. Jake Stewart finished with 10 points and seven boards in the loss.
Next up for North Lamar was a game with Hot Springs. Hot Springs had gotten beat the day before by Clarksville so they were ready for some revenge. Offensively North Lamar couldn't get anything going as they only managed 33 points for the game. They only had one quarter in which they scored in double figures. The Panthers only shot 26% for the game while Hot Springs shot 40%. As the buzzer sounded to end the game, North Lamar was on the wrong side of a 47-33 score.
Next up was Teague. Similar to the game against Lufkin Hudson, North Lamar got down big. This time, though it was in the fourth quarter. Teague entered the quarter with a one point lead. They opened up the fourth with a 19-4 run to open up a 59-43 advantage. The Panthers used tenacious defense and great shooting to claw back and make it a very interesting game. North Lamar finished the game on a 17-6 run but came up a little short as they lost 65-60. Gray once again led the team in scoring with 21 points. It was Sam Asay though that sparked the team. He finished with six points but led the team with eight rebounds.
North Lamar will be in Canton Tuesday night to face the Eagles.