Crockett Repeats as Ho. Co. Holiday Classic Champions
By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – For the second year in a row, the championship game of the Houston County Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament featured the two hosts – the Crockett Bulldogs and the Grapeland Sandies.
And, for the second year in a row, the championship trophy was awarded to the Bulldogs after a hard-fought 52-49 game.
The Sandies came into the game with a sterling 16-0 record and a #2 ranking in Class 2A while the Bulldogs also had a sparkling 16-2 mark and a #5 ranking in Class 3A, with one of the losses coming at the hands of Grapeland, 50-42.
At the outset, the two teams battled back and forth but had trouble finding the basket. The Sandies seemed determined to pound the ball inside and the strategy seemed to work when Crockett’s Allen Horace picked up his second foul at the 4:34 mark of the quarter.
Without Horace on the floor, the Sandies went right at the Crockett defense and built a 17-11 lead before Jordan Bedford hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 17-14 after the first eight minutes of play.
Ty White paced the Bulldogs with four while Bedford and Jalyne Carruthers both knocked down a three, Horace and Teddy Jones added two apiece to round out the Crockett first quarter scoring.
Cadarian Wiley dropped in six points in the first period for Grapeland while Deco Bryant added four. Austin Driskell drained a three while Keizion Ashford and BJ Lamb had two apiece.
The second quarter was a foul fest and that was where the game turned. Crockett went to the line nine times and made six while Grapeland was at the charity stripe five times and only converted one.
Riley Murchison led the Sandies with five second quarter points while Austin Driskell had three and BJ Lamb had two.
Carruthers dropped in seven to lead the Bulldogs’ second period point production. Horace and Jones both had four while AJ Wallace knocked down a three-pointer to help give Crockett a 32-26 lead at halftime.
After the break, the Sandies continued to pound the ball inside in hopes of drawing fouls from Horace. The strategy worked to a certain extent as Ashford got the Crockett big man to commit his third personal foul early in the second half.
The Sandies cut the Bulldogs’ lead to one on two occasions, but when Wiley hit a floater for Grapeland White answered back for the Bulldogs with a three. A layup by Bedford pushed the Crockett lead to eight but a Bryant three-ball sliced the lead to 41-36 with eight minutes left in the game.
Down by five, Grapeland began to slowly chip away at the lead thanks to the efforts of Wiley. Near the five minute mark, he drove the lane for two and picked up a foul on Horace (fourth). Wiley missed the and-one but his lay-in had cut the lead to 43-41.
A steal and another layup by Wiley tied the game at 43 with 2:48 left in regulation. Horace responded with a two of his own to put Crockett back up by two. Wiley answered the bell once again as he drove inside, hit the two and drew the fifth foul on Horace.
On the play, Wiley was injured so Jonathan Luce was chosen to shoot the free throw and Luce came through like a boss as he drilled the shot to put Grapeland ahead 46-45 with 1:24 left to play.
A three by Bedford and a two from Bryant tied the game at 48 with 44.7 seconds left while a second free throw from Luce gave the Sandies a 49-48 lead.
White knocked down a two to give Crockett the lead at 50-49 with less than 30 seconds left. The Sandies had a chance to respond but Jones sealed the deal for the Bulldogs with two free throws as Crockett held on to win the Houston County Holiday Classic by a final score of 52-49.
On the game, the Bulldogs were led by Jalyne Carruthers with 14 points and Allen Horace with 10. Ty White dropped in nine while both Jordan Bedford and Teddy Jones had eight. AJ Wallace added three to account for the Crockett point production.
The Sandies were led by Cadarian Wiley with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Deco Bryant dropped in nine while Keizion Ashford and BJ Lamb had six apiece. Austin Driskell and Riley Murchison both had five while Jonathan Luce rounded out the Grapeland scoring with two.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.