Fourth Quarter Surge Propels Bulldogs to 75-52 Victory

Win Clinches District 20-3A Co-Championship

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – It was a battle of teams with huge playoff implication as both the Crockett Bulldogs and the Franklin Lions were ranked in the top 15 in Class 3A. The winner would be able to claim at least a share of the District 20-3A title, along with a coveted #1 seed heading into the playoffs.

The Bulldogs came into the contest with the Franklin Lions ranked #14 in the latest TABC poll, with a record of 24-6. The Lions, on the other hand, were ranked #12 in Class 3A and sported a mark of 17-2.

Franklin also held a one-game lead in the race for the District 20-3A crown because they had defeated Crockett last month in Franklin by a score of 65-61.

Many who saw the first game felt the Bulldogs had been robbed so a Crockett victory would be a taste of sweet revenge. In addition, with the district title still in the balance, Franklin had cut down the nets after they defeated the Elkhart Elks the previous Friday.   

Given that backdrop, for three quarters last Tuesday night, the game between the Bulldogs and Lions lived up to the hype. Crockett led by two after the first quarter and held a slim, one-point lead at halftime.

Courtney Byrd

Franklin knotted the game after the break and briefly took the lead in the third quarter before falling back into a tie at the end of the period.

The final eight minutes, however, belonged to the Bulldogs as they opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run and then pulled away to win by a final score of 75-52.

As the game got underway, Crockett opened on a 10-3 run, forcing Franklin to call a timeout at the 4:03 mark of the first quarter. The break in the action let the Lions catch their breath for a moment and allowed them to get back into the contest as they only trailed 15-13 by the end of the period.

Hayden Helton and Malcolm Murphy paced the Lions with four points apiece in the opening eight minutes while Darren Daugherty had three and Devyn Hidrago added a basket to account for the Franklin first quarter scoring.

DJ Walker led the way for Crockett in the first period with five points while both Keshun Easterling and Tayshawn Simon had four. Jadyn Collins also chipped in a basket in the first. 

While the threes wouldn’t fall for either team in the early going, the second quarter was a different story as the threes began to drop. Collins opened the quarter for Crockett with a shot from downtown while Bre’Dron Tucker followed with a steal and a layup. Walker drained a three, Tayshawn Simon connected from behind the arc and then Walker connected on his second three-ball of the quarter. A put back by Courtney Byrd put the Bulldogs up by a score of 31-19 and forced Franklin to call another TO, this time with 4:31 left in the half.

Once again, the timeout seemed to break the Crockett momentum. The Lions came roaring back to close out the second quarter on a 13-2 run and sent both teams to their respective locker rooms with the Bulldogs up by one, 33-32.

Helton led Franklin in the second quarter with five points while both Hidrago and Murphy dropped in four. Daugherty and Marcus Wade both hit from downtown to close out the Lions’ point production in the first half.

Walker continued to lead the Crockett squad with eight more points in the second. Collins and Simon both drained a three-ball while Byrd and Tucker rounded out the Bulldogs’ first-half scoring with two apiece.

After the break, both teams struggled from the field. The Lions, however, managed to tie the game at 35 with 5:16 left to play in the third and then took a 37-35 lead at the 4:02 mark.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Easterling followed up for Crocket as he made one-of-two from the line. Simon then knocked down a three-pointer to put the Bulldogs back in front, 39-37.

Franklin wouldn’t go away as they came back to take a four-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the third. Byrd cut the Lions’ lead in half with less than a minute remaining while Collins knotted the game with 25 seconds left as the two teams went into the final eight minutes of play all tied up at 43.

Wade scored five for the Lions in the third while Daugherty, Hidrago and Jayden Jackson all had two apiece.

Simon hit a three for the Bulldogs in the period while Byrd, Collins and Tucker all had two. Easterling made one-of-two from the line to round out the third quarter scoring for Crockett.

After three quarters of back-and-forth, what happened in the fourth was unexpected. Perhaps it could be likened to a boxing match with one fighter consistently going to the body in the early rounds in an attempt to wear down his opponent.

Whatever it was, it worked like a charm for Crockett. Collins opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back buckets while Tucker added another two as the Bulldogs used a 6-0 run to take a 49-43 lead by the 6:41 mark of the fourth.

Following a Franklin basket, Tucker soared in for a rebound and a put back to push the Bulldog margin to eight with 5:18 remaining in the contest. Collins converted an “and one” to extend the lead into double digits and then Walker iced the game with a three.

Walker then closed it out with a pair of thunderous dunks to power Crockett to a 75-52 win and give the Bulldogs a share of the District 20-3A Championship.

Murphy scored four in the fourth for Franklin while Hidrago and Jackson both had two. Helton closed out the Lions’ scoring as he made one-of-two from the line.

Walker took over for Crockett in the fourth with 11 points. Collins poured in nine while Byrd worked inside for eight and Tucker added four to round out the Bulldogs’ fourth quarter scoring.

On the game, the Lions were led by Malcolm Murphy with 12 points. Hayden Helton and Devyn Hidrago were also in double figures with 10 apiece. Darren Daugherty and Marcus Wade both had eight while Jayden Jackson closed out the Franklin point production with four.

The Bulldogs were paced by four players in double figures, led by DJ Walker with a game-high 24 points. Jadyn Collins poured in 16, Byrd dominated the inside with 12 while Tayshawn Simon dropped in 10. Bre’Dron Tucker had eight and Keshun Easterling added five to round out the Crockett scoring.

Despite the victory, Crockett lost a coin flip after the final buzzer to determine who would enter the postseason as the number one seed from District 20-3A. As a result, Bulldogs go into the playoffs as the number two seed.

They will now face the Rogers Eagles on Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the Bi-District round. The game will be held at Bryan High School and the tip-off is scheduled for 6 pm.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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