Bush returns to regional quarterfinals
The Bush boys basketball team rallied from a nine-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, holding Spring Woods two field goals in the final period of a 52-46 area victory.
Junior Braelon Joe (15 points), senior Ariel Mauricio (13) and junior Danny McAdory (10) all reached double figures as Bush won its third straight area championship and ninth since 2008.
Down 37-28 after three quarters, the Broncos (26-10) held the Tigers to nine points in the final period. Fittingly, a steal by Joe that led to a putback by Jackson Morris put the Broncos ahead for good, 43-41 with 2:44 remaining.
“For us, defense is really everything,” Mauricio said. “Ever since our first year on varsity, that’s all coach ever preached. Defense and playing with heart, that’s what pushed us the most.”
Offense was another matter during the first half. Stephen Faramade scored eight points inside and was a key factor on defense, but that was almost half of Bush’s total as the Tigers led 25-17 at halftime.
Despite a three-point play and two forceful blocks by Danny McAdory, the Broncos could not get much closer in the third quarter. Darian Gibson, who finished with nine points, made a pair of free throws to send Spring Woods (26-8) to the final period with a solid lead.
But a pair of threes by Joe and a steal and finish by D.J. Stewart sparked the Broncos. Joe’s driving layup closed a 10-0 run for a 38-37 lead.
“I think we all started to believe in each other,” Joe said. “We realized this could be our last game. We took it upon each other as a team to lift each other up.”
Jesse Zarzuela and Gibson returned the lead to the Tigers, 41-38, but Mauricio responded with a clutch three-point play and added another basket later for a 45-41 advantage.
One of the area’s most consistent regional contenders, Bush made the transition from longtime coach Ronnie Courtney to Brandon Gay this year. But the program standard remained.
“In my eyes, he’s like another Coach Courtney,” Mauricio said. “They’re really similar. He’s a student of the game, just like Coach Courtney. I feel like he pushes us way more. In my eyes he’s like family.”
George Ranch, Fulshear earn historic postseason victories
The George Ranch boys basketball team earned its fourth playoff appearance this season. This time the Longhorns are staying a while.
A 39-37 bi-district victory against Clear Creek marked the first postseason win in school history. The Longhorns broke open a close game with a third quarter that proved decisive, despite a 17-point fourth quarter by the Wildcats.
The Longhorns were just warming up. Noah Thomasson scored 21 points and Dalon Dean added 15 in a 63-50 area victory against District 22-6A champion Summer Creek.
George Ranch led 28-22 at halftime, handling the Bulldogs’ press fairly well and closing the second quarter strong. An 8-0 run to start the second half and a three by Jordan Lewis to end the third quarter produced a 45-37 lead going into the final period. Walker Hale added six points off the bench for the Longhorns.
Fulshear was upset at the buzzer in the area playoffs, but not before the Chargers earned a piece of school history.
They sprinted past Caldwell 91-44 in the Region IV-4A bi-district, extending their winning streak to five games including a strong finish to District 25-4A action.
Elkins, Hightower take area titles
The Knights and Hurricanes essentially swapped places in realignment, with Elkins rejoining the top classification and Hightower assigned to Class 5A. Both are enjoying their new brackets after one week, winning area championships.
District 20-6A champion Elkins turned back Katy Taylor 66-44 for a bi-district win, then eliminated Lamar 88-75 for a fourth consecutive area title. The Knights were one win from their third regional tournament in four years, which includes a 5A state final run in 2016.
Hightower received 30 points from freshman Bryce Griggs in a 73-63 bi-district win against Sterling. Chris Felix (17) and Kristopher O’Neal (13) led the Hurricanes to a 53-46 area victory against Barbers Hill.
They are in their second regional quarterfinal in four years, one win from their first regional tournament since 2012.