High school basketball: Wildcats begin playoff journey

Juwan Lee, Palestine Herald-Press, Texas
·2 min read

Feb. 23—ATHENS — After days of rescheduling and relocating, the Palestine Wildcats will tipoff against the Waco La Vega Pirates tonight inside Athens High School's gymnasium.

The two Class 4A opponents were originally scheduled to battle Friday at Leon High school, but due to inclement weather they were forced to reschedule and relocate their game to tonight in Athens.

Though the official start of Palestine's playoff journey doesn't begin until tonight's 6:30 p.m. tipoff, the Wildcats has been in playoff mode since their 1-4 start in the first round of district play.

"We could've made a run at that second spot," Johnson said. "If we would've had our core guys together we could easily be the best team in this district. We can cause a lot of havoc right now. We're not going to be your typical second or third round team."

They opened the second round of district play with three consecutive wins over Center, Hudson and Jasper. What changed was the insertion of Dreyon Barrett back into the layup. Barrett has been the Wildcats leading scorer since his return and helped flip their early misfortuanes into a 4-1 finish in their final five games.

The addition of barrett has not only provided added scoring, but opened the floor for players such as Taj'Shawn Wilson and Elvin Calhoun to be more efficient.

"Tej'Shawn has looked great," Johnson said. "It took him a little while to get in the groove, but you can tell he's hitting his stride. He provides that spark for us. With Dreyon back it allows Elvin to play a little bit more free. He's a very good post player to be undersized. He's grew tremendously this year.

Waco La Vega come into this contest as the reigning District 18-4A champions. Palestine secured the final playoff spot in District 17-4A in their 73-51 win over Rusk in their district finale.

La Vega comes in boasting a three-game winning streak that includes victories against Robinson, China Spring and Madisonville.

The Wildcats ended district 5-5, but the record doesn't show how good this team could be come playoffs, according to Coach Johnson. Winner of tonight's game will move on to play the winner of the Giddings Buffaloes and the Burnet Bulldogs game.