Palestine High School boys' basketball players gathered around center court after receiving the District 19-4A championship they won on Tuesday.
“I thought it was great to see,” said Palestine head boys' basketball coach J.J. Johnson after the Wildcats toppled Rusk 87-43 for the shiny, gold ball. “It was good for the kids to see their hard work (paid off).”
District championships were nothing new for Johnson, who won four of them while coaching at nearby Grapeland.
However, it's new to Palestine — who hadn't claimed a district title in about two decades, Johnson reported.
With the victory, Palestine improved to 23-3 overall, 7-0 in 19-4A. Only Fairfield stands in the way of an clean sweep in district for the Wildcats — those teams lock up on Feb. 12 in the finale. The 'Cats are off this Friday.
What's more, every single player on Palestine's roster scored.
D'Michael Bellfield paced the Wildcats with 20 points, including 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Matt Wages added 18 points, including 4-of-4 from the stripe.
Four other players scored either eight or nine points (Ahmad Deckard, Elvin Calhoun, Jude Odiaka and Eric Carthen).
Like the first time versus Rusk, this wasn't much of a contest.
Palestine was up double digits by the end of one quarter (20-8) and pushed it to 32 points (51-19) by intermission. The Wildcats tossed in a whopping 31 second-quarter points.
Palestine 87, Rusk 43
Score by quarters
R 8 11 15 9 —43
P 20 31 15 21 —87
Rusk: Braedon Anderson, 2; Chris Perez, 3; Semaj Johnson, 19; Sean Rogers, 2; Jaykwon Simms, 2; Joseph Francis, 8; Clayton Hall, 2; Broderick Session, 3; Dredon Session, 2
Palestine: Marquis Thompson, 3; Matt Wages, 18; Dekedryn Butler, 2; Eric Carthen, 8; Ahmad Deckard, 9; Enoch Fatade, 1; T.J. Dever, 3; Quintin Cook, 3; Ethan Savarese, 4; D'Michael Bellfield, 20; Jude Odiaka, 8; Elvin Calhoun, 8