By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
With three seconds to go and the scored tied at 44, Sage Tolbert established his position in the lane on the weak side, ready for any rebound that may come his way.
One did, and Tolbert tipped it in to give Travis a 46-44 win over Klein last Saturday.
“I was just trying to locate the ball and try to tip it in if it was a miss,” Tolbert said.
Travis started slowly, trailing 26-20 at halftime. The Tigers outscored Klein 14-7 in the third quarter, to take a 34-33 into the fourth quarter. With 2:27 to go in the game, Golden Amadi hit a three-pointer to give Travis a 42-38 lead. Klein refused to go away, and quickly scored a basket. Travis’ Cameron Hill then hit two clutch free throws with 52 seconds to go, giving the Tigers a 44-40 lead. Klein again responded with a basket, and after a Travis in-bounds violation, Klein’s Evan Smith made two free throws to tie the game at 44 with 28 seconds to go, setting the stage for Tolbert’s tip-in.
Morris Udeze led the Tigers with 14 points.
“It was a physical game but I was telling my team to find me at the post because I can finish,” Udeze said.
Point guard Cameron Hill finished with 13 points, most of them in the second half.
“We started slowly so I tried to pick up the tempo and get our team going. It was a physical game,” Hill said.
When asked about his clutch free throws, Hill said, “I try to make 20 free throws in a row after every practice because I know I will be fouled at the end of every game.”
Myles Smith led Klein with 19 points.
Dawson 73, Bush 62
Bush has a team full of wing players who constantly slash to the basket, and they know how to finish.
Finishing against Dawson’s front line of 6-foot-8 Karl Nicholas, 6-foot-5 Kris Dixon, 6-foot-5 Jules Moor, and sixth man, 6-foot-6, Julien Johnson, became problematic for the Broncos.
With a 12-11 lead going into the second quarter, the Dawson front line stepped up their dominance, holding Bush to just 6 points in the quarter to take a 29-17 halftime lead. There were few blocked shots, but almost every Bush shot was affected by the tall front line.
Bush refused to give up, and closed to within 3 with 1:28 to go in the third quarter, but Dawson added a basket and a free throw to make the score, 38-32, at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter turned into a free throw shooting contest as Bush swarmed to the basket on every possession and collected fouls on the deep Dawson front line. Bush then fouled Dawson on almost every possession, hoping to get back in the game. Bush’s Peter Byrd made 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Bryson Etienne added four free throws, but it wasn’t enough as Dawson made 22 free throws in the fourth quarter to make the final score 73-62.
The game was played in the Bush gymnasium, which was hot and humid, causing many wet spots on the court. The wet spots caused players of both teams to slip and fall, leading to many turnovers and traveling violations.
Karl Nicholas led all scorers with 19 points and accounted for many Bush misses.
“Defense wins championships,” Nicholas said. “I got into foul trouble early, so I just tried to stay on my feet and keep my hands in the air. That changes a lot of shots.”
Nicholas has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Montana. Bush’s Peter Byrd scored 20 points, 16 coming on free throws.
Travis and Bush meet on Jan. 6 at Wheeler Fieldhouse.
@FtBendAthletics Athlete of the Week
The Fort Bend Star Athlete of the Week is Sage Tolbert of Travis for tipping in the winning basket at the buzzer to beat Klein.