Games of the night
Plano boys stun Plano East on buzzer beater three to take control in District 6-6A
PLANO — Plano guard Justin Buenaventura has earned a new nickname this season.
“East killer” rumbled from the crowd of Plano parents following Buenaventura’s buzzer-beater 3-pointer to elevate Plano (20-7, 10-1) to a 52-50 win over Plano East (26-4, 9-2) and first place in District 6-6A in a contest between two of the state’s top 25 teams.
With under five seconds to play and down one point, Plano inbounded the ball to Oklahoma State signee Justin McBride, who was promptly double-teamed. He passed it off to Buenaventura, who hit a Hail Mary 3-pointer as time expired.
When these two teams met back in January, Buenaventura was the hero as well. He scored all eight overtime points in the win, including the go-ahead basket after getting his own rebound on a free throw.
But this one — on the road for sole control of first place — meant more.
“This one felt different because it was a buzzer-beater, and it was so amazing, especially because it was a rivalry game,” Buenaventura said.
He finished with six points. Senior forward Nikk Williams led all scorers with 14 points. McBride and junior guard Tyran Mason added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Plano found itself in an early hole, as East jumped out to a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. McBride was the only Plano player to score in the first.
But once his teammates joined in on the action, Plano was able to close the gap. It trailed by three at the half, and the two teams were all tied up at 38 after three quarters.
Despite Plano gaining a seven-point advantage early in the fourth, East closed the gap and even took the lead late with an alley-oop three-point play from Jordan Mizell, who finished with a team-high 11 points. But after two missed free throws that could have iced the game, Plano took advantage and sealed the win.
Plano now controls its destiny with just three games remaining.
“In my opinion, we played the two hardest teams this weekend,” Buenaventura said. “We can’t have a hangover on our next game. We’ve got to execute.”
Hebron girls clinch District 6-6A title in photo finish
CARROLLTON — Before inbounding the ball with the score tied and 6.4 seconds remaining, the Hebron girls basketball team drew up a play designed to get the ball to imposing 6-3 center Jordan Thomas, the tallest player on the court.
But with Thomas immediately covered down low, star guard Paige Bradley had to quickly improvise. So she passed it off on the right wing to sophomore Sydnee Jones, who delivered the biggest shot of her career.
Jones took one dribble and swished a 3-pointer with one second remaining to give Hebron a 48-45 win over Coppell and the District 6-6A title. Had Coppell won, it would have had a one-game lead with just one game remaining.
“That was mind-blowing. I had been off all game, and that was the perfect shot right there,” said Jones, who scored eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter. “It feels great [to win district].”
It was a similar situation to what happened in Hebron’s 57-55 win over state-ranked Denton Braswell on Nov. 22.
“We wanted an iso for Jordan,” Hebron coach Lisa Branch said. “It kind of happened to us earlier in the year against Braswell when they double-teamed Jordan and left Sydnee wide open. Sydnee has the green light every game to shoot it, and that’s what she did. It’s exciting to be comfortable enough to trust anybody that was out on the floor at that time.”
Hebron (27-5, 12-1), the state’s ninth-ranked Class 6A team, was coming off a 60-58 loss to Flower Mound on Friday night that dropped it into a first-place tie with third-ranked Coppell, and Branch said she didn’t get any sleep after the loss. But Hebron led for nearly the entire first half Saturday, and it didn’t panic after a 6-0 run gave Coppell a 43-40 lead late in the game.
Bradley, the team’s leading scorer, scored her first points of the game on a layup with just over a minute left to cut Coppell’s lead to one, then Thomas’ layup with less than 25 seconds remaining gave Hebron a 44-43 lead. Hebron immediately stole the ball and Bradley made one of two free throws for a two-point lead.
Coppell’s Waverly Hassman calmly sank two free throws with 11.5 seconds left to tie it and set up Jones’ heroics, which gave Hebron a sweep of its two district games against Coppell (32-3, 11-2). This was a Hebron program that was 10-51 in the previous two seasons before Branch became coach in 2017, and the team went 5-25 in Branch’s first season, then lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.
When it wasn’t pressing, Hebron switched between a zone defense and man-to-man to try to contain 6-1 Coppell star Julianna “Jules” LaMendola, a four-star Indiana signee who is rated the 52nd-best player in the nation in the Class of 2023 by ESPN’s HoopGurlz. LaMendola scored 13 points — just four below her average — but it was on 4-of-15 shooting from the field.
Dana Gingrey led Hebron with 15 points, hitting three 3-pointers, while Thomas scored 10. Hassman led Coppell with 16 points, including a 3-pointer that gave Coppell a 42-40 lead.
DeSoto uses tough week to prepare for postseason
MANSFIELD — A good coach can find beauty in a challenging week.
DeSoto’s boys basketball team, like most in the Dallas area, had its schedule upended this past week by the winter storm. Its Tuesday game at state-ranked Mansfield Legacy was pushed to Saturday, and it had to play its Friday game vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge after a multiday layoff due to school closures.
But DeSoto coach Richard Bacon — who was selected last week to coach in the McDonald’s All-American Game — framed it this way: If DeSoto plays in the regional tournament, it’ll need to play games on back-to-back days. Ditto for the ensuing state tournament in San Antonio.
“We treated this like a tournament,” Bacon said. “Semifinals last night, championship today.”
The metaphorical trophy goes to DeSoto.
Less than 24 hours after its 25-point victory over Lake Ridge, DeSoto (23-7, 7-3 District 11-6A) beat Legacy 84-74. DeSoto, No. 19 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches statewide 6A poll, led by as many as 20 points in the first half and never trailed.
Seniors Russell Foreman Jr. (25 points), Arrington Cooper (20 points, five 3-pointers) and Jaxson Davis (19 points) combined for 64 of DeSoto’s 84 points.
That trio hasn’t spent much time together on the court this season. Foreman missed most of December with a twisted ankle and the flu. Davis, a 6-5 tight end on DeSoto’s 6A Division II state-title-winning football team, didn’t join the team until after football season.
“The thing that we think is good about right now is we’re finally getting everybody together for the first time at the right time,” Bacon said. DeSoto played Saturday’s game without senior guard DeShawn Crawford, who was the team’s second-leading scorer before an injury sidelined him.
Legacy (20-8, 7-4), No. 22 in the TABC rankings, cut the deficit to 11 points in the third quarter and finished within 10 points of DeSoto thanks to a last-second 3-pointer from senior Isaiah Manning, a three-star forward signed to TCU. Manning missed Legacy’s first game against DeSoto in January with a dislocated ankle, but scored 13 points in Saturday’s rematch.
Junior Amir McMillian scored a team-high 22 points for Legacy, while classmate Ahmare Rose scored 19.
Friday’s top performers
AJ Guerra, Colleyville Covenant Christian: Scored 19 points in a 67-37 win over Midland Classical Academy.
Sentel Simpson, Panther Creek: Scored 19 points in a 72-59 win over Carrollton Ranchview.
Christian Prather and Kenneth Gaines, Little Elm: The two seniors combined for 43 points in a 65-54 win over Prosper Rock Hill. Prather scored 22, while Gaines added 21.
David Terrell and Richard Lemboye, Mansfield Summit: Terrell scored 22 points and Lemboye had 20 in Summit’s 65-35 win over Mansfield Timberview. Terrell is a UTEP commit, and both players stand at 6-4.
Jemarcus Brown, Arlington Bowie: The senior small forward scored a game-high 22 points in a 63-46 win over Arlington.
Jayden Ramnanan, Flower Mound Marcus: The sophomore had 19 points in Marcus’ 62-52 win over crosstown rival Flower Mound.
Chandler Chism and Gernarius Edwards, Forney: Each senior added 18 points in a 79-34 win over Corsicana.
Brooks Bahr, Keller: The three-star recruit had 25 points in a 40-point win over Keller Fossil Ridge.
Brynn Lusby, Frisco Panther Creek: Scored 22 points in a 61-21 win over Carrollton Ranchview.
Madi Lumsden, Argyle: Scored 20 points in a 75-34 win over Denton Ryan.
Atlyn Bartley, Lake Dallas: Bartley scored a game-high 27 points in a 69-62 loss to Colleyville Heritage.
Lily Olmos, Colleyville Heritage: Scored 20 points in a 69-62 win over Lake Dallas.
Jaedan Gillam, Keller: The senior point guard led the way with 20 points in a 53-24 win over Keller Fossil Ridge.
Taysie Trejo, Midlothian Heritage: Trejo had a game-high 21 points in an 83-15 win over Arlington Seguin. Heritage improved to 13-2 in district with one game left.
Samantha Fields, Frisco Reedy: Fields led her team with 20 points in its 66-9 win over Carrollton R.L. Turner.
The margin of victory in the Sanger girls’ win over Hirschi. Sanger gave up just four points all game and advanced to 25-5 overall and 7-0 in district with the win.
Number of points Plano’s Salese Blow scored in her team’s loss to Plano East. Blow scored all but 13 of her team’s points in the contest, exceeding her season average of 32.7 points per game. She is nearing 900 total points on the year while averaging 6.8 rebounds per game.
Turnovers Mesquite Poteet boys forced by Conrad in its 59-25 win.
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