By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Princeton Onwas drove to the basket and dove into water coolers Wednesday night.
He made clutch 3-pointers.
He also missed the final minute of the game, forcing his teammates to hold on without him for a 69-66 victory over Lee College before a strong and vocal crowd at the K. and Ida Wolens Special Events Center.
Onwas scored 19 points, scoring seven of them during a 9-0 run midway through the second half. It turned a 45-39 lead for Lee into a three-point advantage for the Bulldogs.
Navarro led the rest of the way with Onwas making another clutch 3-pointer for a 51-47 lead with 6:36 left in the game.
“His problem is he’s too unselfish,” Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said. “He’s the most talented unselfish player I’ve ever had.”
Navarro had to win the game at the end without Onwas, who went down with cramps after he made a driving basket for a 64-59 lead with 1:25 left in the game.
Jamar Goodwin sealed the win with two clutch free throws, and Johnathan Benn had a steal and a basket with six seconds left to give Navarro a two-possession lead.
“We’re teaching this team how to win,” Estelle said. “We have to do that every season. There are so many variables.”
The good news for Navarro is last year’s team made it to the national tournament and lost a game like this one to Kilgore before the semester break.
Navarro and Lee both struggled to find their shooting strokes early, resulting in a 26-26 tie at halftime.
But Lee’s Jamal Jones got hot in the second half, scoring 18 of his game-high 21 points as Lee led by as much as six points on two different occasions.
That’s when Onwas took things on his shoulders, getting some help from forward Justin Phillipe, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
“Justin carried us in the first half,” Estelle said. “We wouldn’t have been in the game if it wasn’t for him.”
And it was Onwas in the second half, crashing into the water coolers for a save that eventually resulted in extra possession for Navarro that helped finish the second-half rally and the victory.
Navarro 69, Lee 66
Lee......................24.......42 -- 66
Navarro...............26.......43 -- 69
LEE: Jamal Jones 21, Devante Wilson 10, Isaac Smith 3, William Knowles 10, Trahson Burrell 9, Don Thomas 10, Chris Burke 2, Deng Deng 1.
NAVARRO: Jonathan Benn 8, Princeton Onwas 19, David Woodard 1, Toney Foster 12, Jamar Goodwin 5, Aaron Turner 5, Terrance Syon 3, Justin Phillipe 12, Jaleel Cousins 4.
RECORDS: Lee 8-4, 1-1. Navarro 8-3, 2-0.