By JUSTIN RAINS
A couple of times during the Palestine girls’ basketball team’s game Tuesday against visiting Groesbeck, the lights in the Palestine High School gym flickered as a storm blew through the area.
But, the lights never full gave out. It was a perfect metaphor for the Ladycats season.
Trailing 27-19 at halftime, the Ladycats were on the verge of all but being eliminated from postseason contention. But, Palestine regrouped during the half and used a stifling press defense to turn things around in the third quarter en route to a 49-39 victory.
With the win, Palestine can do no worse than finish tied for third with the Lady Goats in 19-3A. If that happens, a play-in game would be required.
But, if Groesbeck falters to Rusk in its season finale or Palestine can knock off either Mexia or Fairfield, the Ladycats are in, no strings attached.
The game changed thanks to two big Palestine runs both coming in the third and both thanks in large part to the Ladycats’ pressure defense.
Palestine opened up the third on a 11-0 run, as the Lady Goats were unable to get the ball across halfcourt in the quarter’s 2:30.
It was in that run that Palestine tied things on a lay-up from Kierra Wilson, and Paradyse Page then stole the ball from the Lady Goats, drove in for a lay-up that she and was fouled, making the free throw to give Palestine a 30-27 lead.
It was a lead the Ladycats never gave back.
Groesbeck finally broke the press with 5:20 left in the third, but the pressure didn’t stop.
After Palestine forced a turnover less than two minutes later, a Groesbeck player was called for a technical foul for slamming the ball down in frustration.
It didn’t stop there, either. That was part of a small — at the time — 4-0 Palestine run that eventually was a double-digit run.
Dana Whitehead hit one of the two technical free throws to make it 39-32 before Page hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to 10.
From there, it was just a matter of maintaining the lead, which Palestine did with relative ease, never letting Groesbeck get any closer than eight points.
Whitehead finished with a double-double in the win, scoring a team-high 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Page finished with 12 points while Wilson had 10 in the win, which moves Palestine to 10-12 overall and 3-3 in 19-3A.
Skye Foy led Groesbeck with 13, while the Lady Goats also got eight from Samantha Sloan and six from Mandy Adams.
Palestine travels to face No. 9 Mexia Friday. The Lady Blackcats are coming off of a two-point loss to top-ranked Fairfield Tuesday.
WESTWOOD 57, Central Heights 53
On the west side of Palestine Tuesday, another local team was closing in on a playoff berth, as the Westwood girls basketball team topped Central Heights, 57-53.
With the win, the Lady Panthers pull into a tie with the Lady Blue Devils at 7-3 for 19-2A’s second-place spot. Also at 7-3 is Woden, which defeated Elkhart Tuesday.
Mi’Kayla Benson had 19 points to lead the Lady Panthers in the win, while Natali Muniz had 16.
Shavon Nauls added 10 points while Marialle Boles had eight points and seven rebounds for Westwood.
The Lady Panthers (16-13, 7-3) travel to district-leading Crockett Friday. Games begin at 5 p.m.
SLOCUM 59, Normangee 20
The eighth-ranked Slocum girls’ basketball team continued its run through district play Tuesday, rolling past Normangee, 59-20.
Valerie Larkin had 25 to lead the Lady Mustangs, who led Normangee 24-9 at the half in the blowout win.
Landry Lane added nine points and Cameron Vickers had eight for Slocum, which hosts Leon Friday. Games begin at 4 p.m.
H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL
PALESTINE 63, Groesbeck 38
The Palestine boys’ basketball team maintained its hold on part of District 19-3A’s third-place spot Tuesday, easily beating Groesbeck 63-38.
The Wildcats outscored the Goats 15-2 in the first quarter and never looked back in the victory, which moved them to 3-2 in district play with three games remaining.
Ben Luckett led Palestine with 16 points in the win, getting into the lane and scoring almost at-will against an overmatched Groesbeck defense.
Jarrell Owens and Gee Clark both finished with nine points, with Owens pulling down five rebounds.
C.J. Barrett had seven points and five rebounds for Palestine, while both Shumauri Scott and Dakedrick McMorris finished with six.
Palestine (10-14, 3-2) travels to Mexia Friday. Games begin at 5 p.m.
WESTWOOD 62, Central Heights 56
The Westwood boys’ basketball team held on for a bounce-back win Tuesday, topping Central Heights 62-56.
The win gets the 19th-ranked Panthers back in the win column after Friday’s loss to Elkhart.
Westwood led by 16 heading into the fourth quarter before letting the Blue Devils back in the game. But, the Panthers held on the victory in the end.
J.J. Turner had 17 points to lead Westwood, which also got 12 from Josh Denby.
Both Chris Thompson and Dra Ross had 10 in the victory.
The Panthers (18-9, 8-1) travel to Crockett Friday in what may amount to a district championship game. Games begin at 5 p.m.
CAYUGA 94, Hubbard 41
Deon Shofner had 23 and Preston Anderson had 21 as the Cayuga boys’ basketball team once again rolled over Hubbard, this time to the tune of a 94-41 win.
The Wildcats didn’t score less than 20 points in any of the game’s four quarters en route to the blowout win.
Brayden Walthall had 13 points in the victory, while Chandler Rigdon had 11. D’onte Jackson added seven and Trayce Howard six for the Wildcats (20-6, 6-0).
Cayuga travels to Cross Roads Friday, with games beginning at 5 p.m.
Coaches or team representatives are encouraged to call in scores and stats to 903-729-0281 ext. 242 by 9:30 p.m. after games, or to email firstname.lastname@example.org