Out-classed: 4A kingpin Seguin rallies past Panthers
CEDAR HILL -- Friday's first half couldn't have been scripted any better for the upset-minded Plano East boys basketball team against Arlington Seguin.
But the second half couldn't have been scripted any worse after the state's top-ranked Class 4A squad overcame a slow start to rally past East, 43-40, in the quarterfinals of the C.W. Jackson Cedar Hill Lions Club Tournament.
"Throughout the game, they need to learn about the little plays," said Jeff Clarkson, East head coach. "Just the little things to stay consistent, but offensively we have to execute better because we're in too big of a hurry. We need to learn from these experiences."
East possessed a 23-11 halftime lead only to be outscored, 32-17, over the final two quarters.
The adjustments came at both ends of the floor, with the Cougars steadily chipping away at the Panthers for a 17-10 third-quarter advantage that whittled East's lead down to 33-28. That margin was trimmed to 35-35 with 5:37 left in the fourth after Seguin's Greg Wesley dumped in a layup off an inbounds play. The Cougars took their first lead of the game with 4:50 left at 38-37 after senior Kimani Jackson (a Plano West transfer) converted an and-1.
A trio of free throws by East senior Marcus Mathieu, who scored eight points in the loss, accounted for the remainder of the Panthers' scoring ledger while Seguin was able to extend its advantage as far as 43-39.
East pulled within one possession at 43-40 with 2:30 left and had three chances at a tie, but the Cougars buckled down for contested 3-point attempts by Mathieu and senior Chico Morales to preserve the win.
"We started out with a couple turnovers," Clarkson said. "Throughout the game, I thought our defense was phenomenal, but offense really killed us today. I felt like we should have been up by more at halftime and we just weren't executing offensively.
"In the second half, it caught up with us."
The Panthers surrendered the ball to Seguin 11 times in the second half after having just seven turnovers through the first two quarters. That, coupled with an offensive surge piloted by Wesley -- who scored 14 of his game-high 17 points in the second half -- gave the Cougars life.
"More than anything, it was just shot-making," Clarkson said. "[Wesley] got hot and made a lot of tough shots. We were letting him get it in his sweet spot a few times."
East looked to be steadily draining away at that life force in the first half, where it limited Seguin to just three made field goals. The Panthers' defense was able to stay in front of the Cougars at every turn and in allowing no easy looks early on, built a 6-2 lead through one quarter.
Senior Sawyer Kipp scored all six of East's -- and his -- points in the first quarter in addition to securing nine rebounds.
Senior Xavier Smith posted 10 points and 10 boards of his own, taking the reins in a second quarter that saw East outscore Seguin, 17-9. The forward had five offensive rebounds, including a pair of putback dunks in the second stanza to extend the Panthers' lead to as much as 21-7.
The Cougars got most of their points from the free throw line, primarily from Jackson who added 11 points and six boards. Wesley took control in the second half and, as a result, dealt the Panthers just their second loss of the season.
"These guys will work hard defensively and get where they're supposed to be," Clarkson said. "We have the athletes and size to do that. That's probably as consistent as we've been rebounding and we made it tough on them early."
Friday's setback came one day after East dispatched of Arlington Lamar, 53-38, in the first round of the tournament.
East next hosts Prestonwood Christian Academy at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.