AP NEWS

Steele prevails over the feisty Judson

December 22, 2018

Christian O’Bannon hit four third-quarter 3-pointers and Langston Love poured in a game-high 24 points to lead the Steele Knights to a hard-fought 76-68 win Dec. 18 over the Judson Rockets in their District 26-6A opener in Converse.

The Knights (11-4, 1-0 in 26-6A) led for all but 2:17 of the contest, yet they had trouble putting away the feisty Rockets. Twice the Knights forged 10-point leads, but Judson clawed back and kept the game close until the game’s final minutes.

Steele raced out to 19-9 and 25-15 leads only to have the Rockets (9-9, 0-1) close the gap. Ambrose Johnson scored six points, Michael Washington added a basket and sank two free throws, and Adrian Cohen sank three free throws as the Rockets narrowed the lead to 29-28 with three minutes left in the second quarter. Judson’s Isaiah Washington drained a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that left Steele clinging to a 38-37 lead at the half.

But O’Bannon went to work in the third quarter. He drained two 3-pointers to open the stanza. Then, with Judson leading 53-52, he canned two more to boost Steele to a 58-53 advantage with 1:20 remaining in the quarter.

Steele coach Lonny Hubbard said he’s been waiting for O’Bannon, who had 16 points on the night, to emerge as a scoring threat this season.

“Coming into this year, I thought he was probably our best shooter. But he’s not been shooting well at all,” Hubbard said. “Now he’s finally coming out of his slump, and this was just a huge game for him. He’s back.”

Steele took a 60-55 lead into the fourth, but Judson quickly wiped that out. Johnson, who led the Rockets with 21 points, and Dhimani Hernandez hit back-to-back treys for a 63-62 lead with 6:21 left to play. That would prove to be their final lead of the night.

The teams traded points down the stretch until Steele’s Alijah Comithier hit a jumper and sank two free throws for a 71-66 lead with 1:14 left to play. Steele then calmly sank five of six free throws the rest of the way while Judson hit just one of five shots in the closing minute.

“We really took care of the ball in the second half,” Hubbard said. “Turnovers hurt us, especially in the first half. We didn’t do a good job on the boards, but we got better as we went along. We started outrebounding them and we hit our 3’s.”

Steele hit eight of 18 3-point shots, including five by O’Bannon. Judson hit only six of its 25 3-point attempts, including just one of 11 in the first half. Cohen added 18 points to Johnson’s 21 to pace the Rockets.

Steele played rival Clemens on Friday, while the Rockets traveled to race the San Marcos Rattlers. The Rockets will participate in the M.T. Rice Tournament in Waco Thursday-Saturday before returning to 26-6A action on Jan.4, when they host the New Braunfels Unicorns. The Knights are slated for the Allen Holiday Invitational Thursday-Saturday and open the new year hosting San Marcos on Jan. 4.

jflinn@express-news.net

AP RADIO
Update hourly