GC Basketball Playoffs: Kerens can't sustain momentum in semifinal loss
Bobcats produce who rally, but San Augustine pulls away for 81-60 win
By Todd Wills Corsicana Daily Sun
Kerens won't be back in Austin this year, and San Augustine's 81-60 rout in Friday's Region III-1A DI semfinal suggests the Bobcats weren't all that close to getting back to the state tournament.
But for a moment Friday, the Bobcats made a comeback that sure had their fans thinking about playing for another day.
Kerens fell behind by 21 points, briefly stormed back to take the lead, then couldn't sustain the momentum in the fourth quarter as the Wolves pulled away for a decisive win. San Augustine advances to play Grapeland on Saturday for a trip to Austin.
Kerens, which made its third consecutive regional tournament, finished the season with a 23-8 record.
"The comeback was one of the few highlights of the day," Kerens coach Don Enis said. "It wasn't one of our better efforts. It wasn't a good day to have that. But I'm proud of our effort."
The Bobcats trailed 39-18 with 4:24 left in the first half as the Wolves hit a barrage of 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Kerens had 13 turnovers and couldn't get into the flow of its offense. Deadrion Tolliver scored eight points in the first quarter to keep Kerens around and give the Bobcats some stability.
The Bobcats were able cut the lead down to 41-30 at halftime. Trailing 39-26, Taylor Modester had a putback and a key block and Nate Betts scored on a floater to make it 39-30 before Bobby Tanner made a shot with five seconds left in the half to give the Wolves an 11-point lead.
Kerens exploded in the third quarter. Trailing 43-35, the Bobcats took advantage of some cold shooting by San Augustine. Tolliver made a layup and Betts nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Wolves' lead to 43-40 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
After San Augustine guard Jeremy Jenkins drove to the basket for a 45-40 lead, Kerens went on a 6-0 run to complete a remarkable comeback. Tolliver made a free throw and Shelton Sayles made a layup to get the lead down to two points. Betts, who had 22 points, converted a 3-point play for a 46-45 lead with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
"We talked at halftime about having a good third quarter," Enis said. "We really showed that we're not going to give up. I thought the guys relied on what they've done the last two years."
Kerens' momentum stalled there. The Bobcats came up with a turnover and Kevin Townsel was fouled on a rebound off a missed shot. Townsel made the front end of a one-and-one for a 2-point lead, but the Bobcats were called for a lane violation, wiping out the chance to build the lead to three points.
San Augustine closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run with Jenkins making two layups in transition for a 50-46 lead at the end of three quarters.
Missed free throws slowed Kerens to start to the fourth quarter. The Bobcats, who made only 10 of 23 from the line, hit a major cold spell, as breakaway layups turned into fouls. Kerens made 2 of 7 free throws as the Wolves were about to hold a 52-48 lead.
Then turnovers finished Kerens. Trying to beat a full court press with long passes, the Bobcats instead made four key turnovers, and San Augustine went on an 11-2 run to take a 63-50 lead with 4:35 left.
San Augustine's Dezmond Randle made 3 3-pointers from the corner as the Wolves matched their largest lead of the game at 77-56 with 2:00 left in the game. Randle finished with a game-high 23 points.
Thomas, who watched the final seconds tick down on his high school career, said he was disappointed the Bobcats didn't come out stronger to start the game.
"We didn't make any shots and we didn't rebound," said Thomas. who finished with 10 points.
Townsel said he was proud of the comeback, but just wished the Bobcats could have sustained their momentum.
"It was really good," Townsel said. "I thought we were going to win the game."