By JUSTIN RAINS
The start of the 2012-2013 season has been a rough, if not heartbreaking, one for the Palestine basketball team.
Hoping to vastly improve on their six wins from a year ago, the Wildcats fell to Tyler’s T.K. Gorman Saturday, by one point.
Then, Tuesday, the Wildcats found themselves out-rebounded and a woeful 5-of-13 from the free throw line as Palestine fell to Kerens, 58-55.
Palestine had two looks at three-point shots to end the game, but neither shot from Shumauri Scott or Gee Clark could find the bottom of the net.
“There’s no way that you can come away from this game tonight not better,” PHS coach Bret Botard said. “We’ll be a better basketball team because of this game.
“It was anybody’s ball game the whole way, I just thought there were a few shots we needed to knock down, a few free throws we needed to knock down and we got killed on the glass in the second half.”
Palestine led the game, 54-51, with 1:18 to play after a nice defensive stop and transition basket that saw junior Jarrell Owens convert a lay-up off a pass from junior Sheldon Watson.
But, Kerens — who advanced to the Class 1A state tournament a year ago — answered behind star Tobyus Thomas.
Less than 10 seconds after Owens’ bucket, Thomas got a lay-up of his own and was fouled, converting the free throw to tie the game up at 54.
Palestine’s next possession ended in a miss, and Thomas was at it again, this time converting a floater in the lane that put the Bobcats, who are ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, Division I, up 56-54.
Palestine then took the ball down the court, and Tony Butler drove to the rim and got fouled, earning a trip to the free throw line.
But, Butler only converted one-of-two, expanding on a huge problem for Palestine all night.
“You’re not going to win close games and beat good teams shooting free throws like that,” Botard said. “We discussed that in the locker room after the game, and I just told the guys that I have great faith in their ability to do it, we’re just not doing it right now.”
Palestine then fouled Thomas to send the senior to the line, where he converted both with 17 seconds left.
Palestine opened the game strong and led 15-12 after the first quarter. The Wildcats then extended that lead with an impressive 8-2 run to open the second quarter that gave them their biggest lead of the night at 23-14.
But, Kerens closed the first half on a 13-4 run to tie the game up heading into halftime, and the Bobcats scored 20 points in the third quarter to take a 47-43 lead into the final frame.
Scott finished with a team-best 20 for the Palestine, including two threes. He also had four rebounds.
Owens had 10 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Dakedrick McMorris had four points and 10 rebounds.
Both Butler and Watson finished with six points in the loss for Palestine (0-2).
Palestine heads to Van this weekend for play in the 2012 DQ Van Invitational. The Wildcats take on Carrollton Christian at 10:50 a.m. Thursday at Van Junior High.
H.S. GIRLS BASKETBALL
SLOCUM 56, Centerville 52
Another ranked team from another bigger classification, and all it meant was another victory for the Slocum girls’ basketball team.
The Class 1A, Division I No. 5 Lady Mustangs overcame a slow start to outlast Class 2A No. 7 Centerville Tuesday, 56-52.
The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 23-12 lead after the first quarter, but slowly allowed Slocum back into the game as it wore along.
The Lady Mustangs had cut the lead to nine at the half, and had the deficit down to five heading into the final frame.
Slocum finally took the lead with just over 2:30 left in the game, and held on from there, as senior guard Brice Sizemore iced things down the stretch with four free throws.
Valarie Larkin had a team-high 16 points, including four three-point shots, to lead the Lady Mustangs (9-0), while Kelsee Webb had 11.
Slocum returns to action Tuesday, when it travels to take on Frankston. Subvarsity action begins at 4 p.m.
CAYUGA 62, Grand Saline 34
Kylee Cross had 14 points and Madison Spears had 12 as the Cayuga girls’ basketball team topped Grand Saline, 62-34, on the road Tuesday.
Danielle Anderson had eight points and seven rebounds in the victory for the Ladycats (2-0), while Madyson Gunnels had eight points and five assists.
Shelby Luce added eight steals to spearhead the Cayuga defense.
The Ladycats open play in the Frankston tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. against Terrell.
PALESTINE 51, Diboll 48 (Monday)
It took a huge second half — and even bigger fourth quarter — but the Palestine girls’ basketball team edged Diboll Monday, 51-48.
Trailing 27-14 at the half, Palestine put up 18 points in the third quarter to cut the Lady Lumberjacks lead to 41-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Palestine really turned it on.
The Ladycats scored 19 points in the final frame while holding Diboll to only seven to grab the three-point win.
Senior Dana Whitehead filled up the stat sheet in the victory, scoring 30 points, grabbing seven rebounds while also tallying five assists and four steals. 27 of Whitehead’s points came in the second half.
Paradyse Page had 16 points for Palestine, along with six assists and four steals.
Breanna Jackson had a team-high eight rebounds and three steals, while Nai’Koshia Handsborough had three rebounds and three blocks.
Palestine (5-3) hosts Class 5A Tyler Lee Friday, with freshman action 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.