SULPHUR SPRINGS — Lindale used a gutsy effort and a dose of Eagle magic to rally for a 59-54 win over Paris on Saturday in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal basketball playoff at a packed Wildcat Gymnasium.
The No. 24 Eagles (24-5) used a 20-2 run in the fourth quarter to stun No. 17 Paris (18-6) and advance to the regional semifinals. Lindale will play No. 4 Dallas Carter (25-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Forney High School.
“This what we have worked for since the first day of the offseason last year,” said senior Colton Taylor, who scored 31 points including 10 in the fourth quarter. “This is unbelievable. Just doing it together with my teammates is very special.”
After Jaelyn Lee swished two free throws, Paris had a 52-39 lead with 4:37 on the clock.
Then suddenly the Eagles could not miss and the Wildcats could not hit. With the momentum shifting, the Eagles were cheered on by the Lindale crowd.
“We have a culture of never give up — we play through every whistle and play through every situation that last buzzer sounds,” Taylor said of the fourth quarter deficit.
With their season on the line, the Eagles went on a 14-0 run. Taylor hit two free throws, followed by a inside bucket from Jaymond Jackson, the all-state linebacker who is headed to Lamar University. Taylor had basket on a drive and then Paris called timeout. For some reason, a Paris player walked over to the Lindale bench instead of his bench. Eagles coach Chris Grotemat said there was nothing unsportmanship about the situation. However, a technical was called.
Colby Wood drained both charity shots and Lindale got the ball. On the possession, Walter Smith, who had two treys in the fourth period, drained a corner 3-pointer and the Eagles were within 52-50 with 3:10 showing.
Jackson grabbed a rebound on the next Paris possession and the Eagles worked the ball around, finding Smith in the same corner and the result was the same as previous play, a trifecta. Lindale suddenly led 53-52 with 2:11 showing.
Paris’ dry spell was halted at 1:30 when Garrius Savage hit a short jumper for a 54-53 advantage. That would be the Wildcats’ final bucket.
At 1:11, Wood hit a free throw to tie the game at 54-54.
The Lindale defense came through again as Savage missed and Jackson went up strong to clean the glass.
The Eagles worked the ball around before Taylor was fouled. He swished both freebies for a 56-54 lead at 43.4 seconds.
Lindale kept the pressure on resulting in a scramble for the basketball as Wood tied up Mickens. The possession went to the Eagles and Wood was fouled. He made one free throw for a 57-54 advanate with 18.8 on the clock.
Paris brought the ball down court and Bubba Gray’s 3-point attempt was off the mark and Jackson rebounded.
Taylor, who was 6-for-6 on free throws in the fourth period and 10-of-11 for the game drained two FTs with 9.2 seconds showing for the final score.
“That has been our calling card all season — resiliency,” Grotemat said. “It starts with having great character kids who genuinely love and care about each other. We make no apologies for that. That is a word that is thrown around a lot but our kids genuinely love and care about each other. We don’t get too high and we don’t get too low. Having that genuinely caring about each other allows you to weather those storms.”
Jackson had a double-double for the Eagles with 10 points and 10 rebounds with Smith adding 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Wood tossed in six points and six rebounds.
Along with is 31 points, Taylor had six rebounds and three steals.
Lee led the Wildcats with 17 points but only two free throws in the fourth period. Savage added nine points and Micah Jenkins tossed in eight points.
Lindale was 19 of 24 at the free throw, while Paris was 9 of 13.
Other members of the Eagles are Josh Mahannah, Ryder Johnson, Taegen Terry, Wake Thrasher-Evans, Justin Farris, Airik Williams, Colton Widemon and Noe Vela.
Grotemat’s assistants are Spencer Terry, Bridges Gibbs and Camron Frazier. Students assistants are Emma Grotemat, Victoria Mayorga, Laniya Daniels, Meagan McClendon and Collin Crist.
Lindale 59, Paris 54
Lindale 13 11 10 25 — 59
Paris 16 16 11 11 — 54
LINDALE — Colton Taylor, 31; Walter Smith, 12; Jaymond Jackson, 10; Ryder Johnson, 0; Taegen Terry, 0; Colby Wood, 6; Justin Farris, 0.
PARIS — Jaelyn Lee, 17; Micah Jenkins, 8; K.D. Washington, 4; Jeremarious Morgan, 5; Garrius Savage, 9; Bubba Gray, 5; Jadon Hay, 0; Braylon Mickens, 6; Troy Jones, 0.