The Texas City Stings did what they could to give themselves a chance to win Monday’s Region III-5A quarterfinal playoff game but were unable to get a late, momentum-shifting moment as the Fort Bend Hightower Hurricanes escaped with a 49-48 win at Pearland High School.
“We could just never make the big play,” Texas City head coach Chris Mason said. “They made some big shots. I talk all the time about players making plays, and they got more plays on the boards. It was a great game, but we could never make the big shot of the big stop when we needed it.
Texas City took a 39-34 lead into the fourth quarter, but Hightower quickly erased its deficit with back-to-back 3-pointers from junior guard Chris Harris for the Hurricanes’ first bench points to tie the game, 40-40.
Stings junior forward Jacolby Belle sent a pretty pass to senior guard Dayton Booker for a lay-in to give Texas City a 46-44 lead at the 3:06 mark of the fourth quarter, but Hightower put together an abbreviated but crucial 5-0 run for what would be the final momentum shift of the game.
Harris and forward Cameron Collins knocked down a field goal apiece, and Collins split a pair of free throws after an offensive rebound for a 49-46 lead with 58.2 seconds left in the game.
The Stings did what they could to stay in the game, as senior T.J. Fountain responded with a strong drive to the hoop, and then Hightower missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Texas City a chance to win the game with one final possession. But, sophomore guard Caden McKenzie’s deep 3-pointe try was just off-target.
Texas City got off to a rocky start in the game, as the Hurricanes ended the first quarter on a 12-3 run to lead 19-9 heading into the second period. Hightower freshman guard Bryce Griggs ended the scoring spurt in style with a 3-pointer.
Trailing 21-13 at the 4:47 mark of the second quarter, the Stings rattled off eight unanswered points to get themselves back in the game. A runner in the lane from McKenzie got the key run started, and a pair of drives to the post by Fountain sandwiched a steal that was converted into an open layup by junior guard Phillip McDaniel.
The Stings defense held Hightower without a made field goal in the second quarter until a careless pass was intercepted by Collins, who took it to the other end for a buzzer-beating slam to send the teams into the halftime break tied at 27-27.
Fountain led Texas City with 14 points and eight rebounds. Belle had nine points, and McDaniel chipped in eight points. Rounding out the Stings’ scoring was junior guard Leon Joubert III with six points, McKenzie with five points, Booker with four points and junior guard Vito Vlahovec with two points.
The normally sharp-shooting Stings team was held to just 2-for-12 on 3-pointers thanks to a solid perimeter defense from a rangy Hightower squad.
Leading the Hurricanes were Griggs with 19 points and six rebounds, sophomore guard Chris Felix with 12 points and Collins with seven points and 16 rebounds.