By MICHAEL S. ADAMS
H-P Sports Writer
WODEN — Chireno played a mental game straight from the tip-off and rolled to a 63-40 victory over Neches Tuesday night in a Class 1A, Division I, Region IV bi-district playoff game.
The Owls held the ball at half court for the first two minutes of the ball game before putting the ball into play and then did the same for the final 34 seconds of the first quarter.
After falling behind 3-0, Chireno went on an 11-2 run to close out the first quarter and finished with 19-2 run lasting eight minutes as Chireno never looked back.
“We didn’t really have anyone playing with a lot of experience,” Neches head coach Darren Cook said. “We got behind and they started hitting shots and we didn’t stick to our game plan.”
Chireno hit 5-of-7 three-point field goals and shot 73 percent (16-for-22) from the free-throw line.
Mark Montgomery led the Owls and recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds and teamed up with Martin Gonzalez, who had 18 points, to give Neches fits from all angles on the court.
Montgomery was 11-of-16 from the free-throw line and scored 11 points in the second half. But it was Gonzalez who hurt Neches the worst and allowed the Owls to take a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
Gonzalez scored 13-second half points including the first eight points of the second half for Chireno.
The Owls outrebounded Neches 31-17 with the Owls bench getting just as many rebounds as the Tigers.
“One of our main goals was to keep them off the glass and we did a poor job of rebounding,” Cook said. “Some of their players that don’t normally hit shots were making the baskets they needed to hit.”
Neches’ Justin Todd and Chad Cooke were the only two Tigers able to score in the first half.
Todd had 10 of his 12 points in the first half while Cooke had just four as Neches went into the locker room trailing 27-14 at halftime.
Neches struggled from the floor making 3-of-13 first half field goal attempts and was 0-for-2 from behind the three point line.
Chireno’s foul trouble could not even help Neches in the second half.
Both Thomas Eddings and Justin Brooks started the second half with four fouls. Eddings picked up his fifth foul with 2:16 left in the third quarter and Brooks fouled out with 40 seconds left.
Neches capitalized at the free-throw line making 15-of-19 free-throw attempts.
Cooke led Neches with 17 points and had six rebounds.
Neches shot just 32 percent from the floor and made 11-of-34 field goal attempts for the game.
“We missed a lot of easy shots and couldn’t get any second looks,” Cook said. “That about sums it up, but I am very proud of these guys and the season we had.”
By MICHAEL S. ADAMS