By JUSTIN RAINS
The Slocum girls’ basketball team wrapped up a share of the District 20-A, Division I title Tuesday, defeating rival Grapeland, 62-37.
In the end the final score read like a blowout, but up until there was about a minute remaining in the third quarter, it was anything but.
After a big fourth quarter saw Slocum jump out to a 21-8 lead, the Sandiettes clawed back into things by limiting the eighth-ranked Lady Mustangs to four points.
Things got even closer in the third quarter as Slocum’s shooting went cold, and when Cymone Davis hit two free throws for Grapeland with 3:20 left in the third, Slocum’s once monster lead was down to only a point, 25-24.
Then, as if they found the switch to flip, the Lady Mustangs found their range once again.
Kelsee Webb and Landry Lane hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to extent the lead to seven, and with under a minute to play Brice Sizemore drove to the basket and got fouled, making the shot anyway and converting the free throw attempt to make it 34-24.
Slocum never looked back.
The Lady Mustangs continued their hot-shooting in the fourth quarter to extend the lead even further. In doing so, Slocum kept pace with Lovelady, who topped Leon, 47-35, in its regular-season finale.
Because both teams finish the district schedule at 9-1 and split their season series, they will play at 3 p.m. Saturday in Grapeland to determine who gets the district’s No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.
Grapeland already holds 20-A, Division I’s third-place spot, and will open the playoffs against the second-place team from District 19-A, while the loser of the Slocum/Lovelady game will play that district’s third-place team.
Valerie Larkin led all scorers with 20 points, while both Landry Lane and Sizemore had 15.
Jordan Ives scored only five points, but pulled down 19 rebounds.
Mallory Johnson and Paige Scott led Grapeland with seven points each, while Terrika Campbell, Sicola Shepherd, Davis and Jayde Westbrook each scored four.
CAYUGA 82, Wortham 63
The Cayuga girls’ basketball team avenged a loss from earlier this season to Wortham, and in doing so sewed up District 18-A, Division I second-place spot.
The Ladycats topped Wortham, 82-63, behind 24 points from Madison Spears and 22 more from Kylee Cross. Spears added seven steals while Cross had six assists in the win.
Madyson Gunnels had 13 points and eight steals while Molly Griffey had nine points and Shawnta Knox added eight.
Cayuga will open the playoffs next week against the third-place team from District 17-A.
H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL
GRAPELAND 86, SLOCUM 60
GRAPELAND — When Slocum’s Nathan Edwards made his lay-up with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter, he cut Grapeland’s lead over rival Slocum to eight points at 50-42.
All that happened after that was Grapeland outscored the Mustangs 36-18 in the game’s final 10-plus minutes en route to a 86-60 home win.
Jacolby Simpson had a huge night for the Sandies, leading all scorers with 28 points, while Patrick Walker had 16 and Jacque Faulk added 15. Walker just missed a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds.
Edwards finished his double-double, scoring 16 points and pulling down 11 rebound for the Mustangs. Spence McDonald added his own double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Lane Shugart also scored 12.
Westwood 78, GARRISON 41
The 19th-ranked Westwood boys’ basketball put themselves one win away from a district title with a 78-41 victory over visiting Garrison Tuesday.
J.J. Turner led the way for the Panthers with 25 points, while Dra Ross added 15 for Westwood, which can clinch the 19-2A title with a win Tuesday in Woden.
Josh Denby added 12 for Westwood in the win.
The Panthers (20-9, 10-1) are off Friday, before heading to Woden Tuesday.
Fairfield 46, PALESTINE 34
The Palestine boys’ basketball team fell on the road to state-ranked Fairfield, 46-34.
Shumauri Scott led Palestine with eight points, while Tony Butler and Sheldon Watson each scored six and C.J. Barrett and Jarrell Owens each added four.
Palestine (10-16, 3-4) is off Friday before hosting Rusk Tuesday. A win in that game should clinch Palestine’s playoff berth.
CAYUGA 95, Wortham 49
Preston Anderson dropped 40 points and Deon Shofner added 22 as the Cayuga boys’ basketball team rolled over visiting Wortham, 95-49.
With the win, the Wildcats can capture the District 18-A, Division I title Friday with a win on the road in Kerens. The Wildcats beat Kerens by eight in their first meeting this year.
Both Hunter Jenkins and Chandler Rigdon scored eight for Cayuga (22-6, 8-0) in the win.
Games Friday begin at 5 p.m.