By JUSTIN RAINS
CORSICANA — There was a reason why the Robinson boys’ basketball team won one of Class 3A, Region III’s tougher districts.
The Rockets showed exactly that here Friday, as they rolled to a 67-51 win over Palestine in the area round of the playoffs at Corsicana High School.
Robinson used two big first half runs to give itself all the space it would need against the Wildcats, who showed that in the playoffs, one bad stretch of basketball can do you in.
“You get exposed in the playoffs, especially the further you advance in the playoffs,” PHS coach Bret Botard said. “You get to this level of competition, you’re not going to have a bad half and advance, because the teams we’re playing are good teams.”
After a rocky start, Palestine cut Robinson’s lead to 21-15 on a Gee Clark three, Robinson went on a 4-0 run to end the first quarter and take a 25-15 lead into the break.
The Rockets continued that run into the second quarter, and before it was over, the Rockets had outscored Palestine 24-8 over about nine minutes of game time to take a 45-23 lead into the half.
From there, the District 17-3A champs never looked back.
“(They were able to) get dribble penetration and offensive rebounding more than anything,” Botard said when asked about the keys to Robinson’s run. “We went through a stretch there where we just couldn’t keep anybody in front us and, if they did miss a shot, they got the offensive rebound and put it back in.”
The game was played to mostly even in the second half, but it didn’t matter. Palestine could never cut into the Robinson deficit enough to cause much stress for the Rockets, who’ll face district rival Connally in the regional quarterfinals.
Robinson had three players score more than 15 points, led by Carson Earps’s 19 points and 12 rebounds. Kerry Thomas added 17 points, while Jeremy Lasseter scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Gee Clark led Palestine with 11 points, while C.J. Barrett scored 10 and Sheldon Watson scored seven points and pulled down seven rebounds.
The loss brings a disappointing end to an overly successful season for the Wildcats, who made the program’s first playoff appearance since 2006, charting its first playoff win since 2005.
All that happened with only one senior — Shumauri Scott — who Botard praised lavishly as the program’s rock during the last three seasons.
“He’s been a great senior and the ride ended too quick for him. He deserved more,” Botard said. “That’s the nature of the playoffs. It’s going to end like that.
“I was glad we got him back here, but I wish we could’ve gotten him more.
Now, the goal for Palestine is to make this a yearly event, not something that happens ever six to eight years.
“You don’t want to take anything for granted,” Botard said. “You would think with our youth and everything coming back, that we should be competing for championships and playoff berths, but you still have to have the fight and that hunger to do that.”
Mart 76, CAYUGA 60
For the third-straight season, the Cayuga boys’ basketball team’s season ended short of its stated goal.
But this time, it barely got going before it was brought to an end.
The fifth-ranked Wildcats were shocked in their playoff opener Friday, falling to Mart 76-60 in Buffalo.
With the win, Mart moves on to the regional quarterfinals to take on third-ranked Grapeland. The Sandies defeated Martin’s Mill Friday, 58-46.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org