Mexia 61, GRAPELAND 51
FAIRFIELD — After a strong opening quarter, the Grapeland boys' basketball team seemed to lose its rhythm, as did the Mexia Blackcats.
The difference, however, is that Mexia found its rhythm in the fourth quarter, while Grapeland did not.
The Blackcats outscored the Sandies 17-7 in the final quarter to pull away and earn a 61-51 win to open up the Fairfield Invitational.
Mexia goes on to face Jacksonville at 9 a.m. today in Fairfield's gold gym, while Grapeland will face Woden at noon in the south gym.
Grapeland landed late in the third quarter, 41-38, when Patrick Walker picked up his third foul and had to sit for the final three minutes, 20 seconds of the quarter.
In that span, Mexia went on a 6-3 run to tie the game heading into the fourth, and kept that momentum rolling.
Mexia pulled ahead earlier and kept a one-possession advantage for much of the fourth quarter's first few minutes, then started to pull away with about four minutes to go.
With 4:10 left to play, Mexia went to a four-corner spread offense to pull Grapeland out of its zone defense, and that earned Damion Matthews an open lay-up to make it 51-44.
After forcing a Grapeland miss, the Blackcats again spread it around and got an open three-pointer for Curk Harris, which he missed, but LaVictory McKnight got the rebound and put it back for a nine-point Mexia lead that all but ended things.
From there, the Sandies never got the game down to a one-possession contest.
Walker finished with 18 points to lead Grapeland along with five assists, but the junior-star scored only five of those points in the second half.
Jacolby Simpson added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Javonte Woods and Jivarro Thompson each had eight.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at email@example.com