Jan. 25—The Cleburne Yellow Jackets suffered their fifth consecutive defeat in a 60-37 loss Tuesday night vs. Midlothian at Jeff D. Cody Arena.
After a strong 3-2 start in District 8-5A play, the Jackets (10-18) have struggled in the midst of a five-game losing streak to fall to 3-7 in league play, putting their playoff hopes on life support.
Midlothian improved to 8-3, keeping pace with Mansfield Timberview in third place and still within striking distance of Mansfield Summit and Burleson Centennial at the top of the District 8-5A standings.
Cleburne played well early as Javen Colbert and Rex Morgan hit back-to-back 3's to open the game with an early 6-2 lead. And the Jackets even weathered a 10-0 Midlothian storm in the opening quarter as Cleburne faced only a 17-14 deficit going into the second.
Cleburne still kept things close for much of the second quarter, with Jerison Brown scoring on a putback with 3:50 left in the first half to bring the Jackets to within 25-21 of the Panthers. But Midlothian went on another 10-0 run before Brown hit a late 3 as the Panthers took a 35-24 lead into halftime.
But after Colbert suffered an injury late in the first half and didn't return in the second, the Jackets struggled to stay within striking distance. Midlothian opened the third quarter on a 10-3 run, pushing its lead to 45-27.
Cleburne's district-long struggles in the second half continued in this game as the Jackets scored only 13 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. Cleburne had a pair of 10-second violations and a 5-second inbound violation in the third quarter as part of 19 turnovers on the night.
"We haven't executed well offensively," Cleburne Coach Jeff Bush said. "We had open looks that we haven't knocked down. At some point, you've got to hit shots. Against Seguin, we hold them to 41 points and that's got to be a game we win but we don't hit anything. Same thing at Timberview, we were in the game and we go a long stretch without scoring. It's plagued us ever since the Heritage game.
The Jackets shot 29% from the floor — 3-of-10 from 2-point territory and 8-of-28 from 3 — while the Panthers made 47% of their shots (17-of-32 from 2; 5-of-15 from 3).
Midlothian also had a decided advantage on the glass. The Panthers grabbed 14 of the game's first 15 rebounds, ending the game with a 36-12 advantage.
"[Tuesday night] it didn't help that we had to go out there in the second half without our best player but on top of that we turned it over," Bush said. "But also we got some good looks, it's just not falling right now. There's no real way out of it other than to keep playing and keep shooting."
Matthew Johnson led Cleburne with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3, Colbert had eight points in the first half, and Morgan finished with six points.
Treston Gage and Kelton Williams led Midlothian with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Cleburne will try to snap its losing streak when the Jackets visit Burleson at 7 p.m. Friday.
With six games remaining, the Jackets are mathematically alive for a playoff push, four games out of a playoff spot. And
Bush said they've got to maintain their game-by-game approach.
"It's still the same," he said. "We're taking it one game at a time. Our focus is completely on Burleson and nothing else. We can't control what goes on with other games in our district. We can't win six games Friday, either. We have to worry about one opponent at a time. We played well [vs. Burleson on Dec. 16], but they did some good stuff in that game, too, and now we go to their place so it's going to be tough."
Midlothian pulls away from Lady Jackets
The Cleburne Lady Jackets put together arguably their best start in District 8-5A play, handling Midlothian's full-court press well and jumping out to a 7-4 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Lady Panthers pulled away over the course of the game for a 71-25 win Tuesday.
After Cleburne's 7-4 lead, Midlothian used a 14-1 run to close the opening frame for an 18-8 lead. By midway through the second quarter, the Lady Panthers built an insurmountable 32-11 lead and took a 35-16 advantage into halftime.
Midlothian continued creating distance in the second half, including an 18-4 advantage in the third quarter thanks to a 3-point barrage.
Midlothian shot 50% from the floor with 12 turnovers while Cleburne shot 20.5% with 21 turnovers.
Jackie Resendiz led Cleburne with 12 points while Bailey Davis scored 17 to lead the Lady Panthers, who improved to 7-6 in district play, a half game ahead of Burleson Centennial for fourth place.
Cleburne (7-21, 1-11) will visit Burleson at 5:30 p.m. Friday.