- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Feb. 23—ENNIS — The Athens Hornets needed overtime against the Terrell Tigers following the crazy weather we experienced in Texas last week.
When all was said and done, senior Jacorian Hemphill and freshman Jorien Ray put the nail in the coffin for the 61-58 bi-district overtime win. The two players hit game-clinching free throws in the final 11 seconds to advance in the playoffs.
"We had some young guys step up and some seniors step up tonight," Athens coach Cliff Thompson said. "It was a complete team effort and I am so proud of them. They made a point that none of these kids had been a part of a playoff victory. To send them out with the last two years we had, I could not be more proud for the seniors."
The game was originally scheduled for last Thursday at Ennis, but due to the winter weather it was moved to Wills Point.
"That was really stressful for myself and the coaches trying to schedule everything," Thompson said. "Realistically we are all here and healthy and there was a lot of people who went through some tough times with all of that, but basketball is the least of our worries. It affected everybody and I am proud of how we came back and played."
Athens trailed 51-39 with 3:49 remaining in the fourth before going on a 13-1 run to tie the game at 52 all. Sophomore Eli Rincon had to shoot the free throws with 3 seconds remaining in place of Jaden Crane, who was dealing with a cramp.
Rincon hit one of two free throws to send the game into overtime. Rincon finished the night with six points.
During the run, Athens held Terrell (9-11) scoreless for nearly six minutes before Tarrance Garner ended the drought with a putback to tie the game at 54 with 3:30 remaining in overtime.
"I saw grit from the team. Those kids just bought into our defensive principles and we changed a lot about six games in," Thompson said. "They bought into it and we have been getting better and better. I promise you Terrell is a good team. I know they got third in their district and they could win a lot of games."
One concern for the Hornets was the play of Terrell junior Ki'juan Davis. The post player scored a game-high 18 points before fouling out of the game, and was big in key situations for the Tigers.
"We knew he (Davis) was a high energy guy and would get rebounds," Thompson said. "We knew he was super athletic and he surprised us with his mid-range and he was deadly. I am so proud because we had to watch him throughout the game."
Athens finished the night with a team-high 12 points from Jaden Crane. Ray had 11, Connor Woodard had 10, Hemphill had nine, Connor Clay had seven and Derek Killingsworth finished with six points.
TERRELL (58) — Tarrance Gardner 13, Abdul Mohammed 6, Zamandrick Hambrick 4, Shane Harris 3, Perry Garfield 3, Tommie Steward 1, Davian Young 5, Preston Kilgore 2, Ki'juan Davis 18, Kanye Nix 3.
ATHENS (61) — Jaden Crane 12, Connor Woodard 10, Jorien Ray 11, Connor Clay 7, Jacorian Hemphill 9, Eli Rincon 6, Derek Killingsworth 6.