The Elkins Knights, down by 18 points with five minutes to go in the third quarter, rallied to pull within three points with 3:03 to go in the game, but the Knights were forced to foul to try to get the ball back, and the Titans of Port Arthur Memorial made nine free throws in the last 2:25 to win the Region 3 Class 5A championship at Delmar Field House last Saturday.
The Knights started slowly, falling behind 12-2 with 5:39 to go in the first quarter. Behind Heath Jackson’s seven points, they were able to cut the Titan’s lead to 20-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Knights stayed cold in the second quarter as Port Arthur pulled away and held a 41-29 lead at halftime.
The Knights finally came alive in the third quarter. After falling behind 47-29, they went on a 13-4 run to make the third quarter score 51-42. Vernon Harrell had six of the 13 points during their run.
Elkins stayed hot in the fourth quarter and cut the Titans’ lead to 57-54 with 1:30 to go in the game. But the Titans held the Knights scoreless for the next minute while making a basket and eight free throws to claim the championship 67-58.
Harrell led the Knights with 17 points. Jackson and Donovan Williams had 15 points, respectively. Elkins end its season with a 29-12 record.
“They made shots and we didn’t,” Elkins coach Albert Thomas said. “But we had a great year.”
Port Arthur improved its record to 32-5 and plays in the state tournament on Friday.
Elkins vs. Bryan
With Elkins leading Bryan 65-63 with a minute to go, the Knights’ Timothy Denton scored to make it 67-63. After a Bryan turnover, Denton hit two free throws to increase their lead to 69-63. Once again, Bryan turned the ball over, and Denton scored again to make the score 71-63 with 10 seconds to go in the game. Another Bryan turnover and a slam-dunk by Donovan Williams at the buzzer made the final score 73-63 last Friday night at Delmar Field House, sending the Knights to play Port Arthur Memorial for the Regional Championship.
Bryan started out hot as they took a 10-2 lead in the first two minutes.
“Bryan is a good team, and the way they pushed the ball is a little different from anyone we have played recently,” Elkins coach Albert Thomas said. “They come right at you. I knew we would have to make some adjustments on how we do things and we were able to make a good adjustment. We were able to get back on defense. I thought we would be able to weather the tide. I had faith in these guys that they were not going to give in.”
Tyler Callegari made a basket and a free throw with eight seconds to go in the quarter to cut the lead to 18-16 and Vernon Harrell made a jumper to tie the score at 18 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was back and forth and ended with Elkins on top 31-30. Callegari had six points in the quarter, all on offensive rebounds.
“I am glad I don’t play against Tyler. It is hard to keep him off the boards. Tyler is a workhorse. He likes to score, so he wants to get that offensive rebound and put it back for a score. He is just relentless on the boards,” Thomas said.
The Knights went on an 18-5 run to start the second half. Heath Jackson scored 11 of the 18 points to give Elkins a 50-5 lead with 3:20 to go in the third quarter.
“Heath is a fantastic player. He sets the tone for us with his defense, ball handling and his floor generalship. He has a really good knowledge of the game. He didn’t want to go home so he knew what he had to do,” Thomas said.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Bryan chipped away at the lead and was able to get within two points with a minute to go before Denton put the game away.
Harrell led the Knights with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
“We just had to be aggressive on the boards. Their guards really crashed the offensive boards, and I told my teammates, help me out down here, and they did,” Harrell said.
Callegari and Jackson had 13 points each, Denton had 11 and Donovan Williams had 10.
Bryan ended its season with a 27-10 record.
“We had some spells where things didn’t go as we planned, but we were very resilient and fought back at the end. It hurts but I am extremely proud of our effort,” Bryan coach Chris Jones said.
Elkins improved its record to 29-11.
“Bryan was a very good team, but we have played a lot of very good teams this year. I think it’s just relying on experiences we have had though out the year. We stayed calm and hung together,” Thomas said.