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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian defeats Richardson to reach regional championship game - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian defeats Richardson to reach regional championship game

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Posted: Friday, March 6, 2020 11:07 pm

FORT WORTH The Permian boys basketball team entered the Region I-6A semifinal with a hurdle to clear:

>> Winning and advancing beyond the fourth round after falling short each of the last two years.

The third time proved to be the charm as the Panthers made enough plays to pull away for a 70-57 victory against Richardson Friday at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

Permian (32-3) advanced to face defending state champion Duncanville at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

Richardson finished the season at 34-4 after making it to the regional tournament for the first time in 33 seasons.

“We did this tonight with a lot of hard work, a lot of luck and a lot of hustle,” Permian head coach Tim Thomas said. “Richardson is a great team and they are well coached.

“But our guys played hard and held tough.”

The Panthers relied on the seniors to step up, particularly in the first half.

J.J. Vizcaino finished with a game-high 26 points while Nakavieon White had 16 points. Those two forwards, along with senior Keyonta Johnson, combined for all 27 of Permian’s first half points.

Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start offensively but Richardson was able to get out to an early 4-2 lead.

Permian, however, erased that with an 8-3 run to take a 12-7 lead after the first quarter.

“It was just a lot of hard work for us and applying what we did in practice,” Johnson said. “We were just motivated and we didn’t want to go home.”

The Panthers continued their solid play thanks in large part to Vizcaino’s efforts. The forward scored 11 points in the second quarter, including a pair of three-point plays near the end of the half as Permian built a 27-15 halftime advantage.

“I really have no words to describe that honestly,” Vizcaino said. “That was really exciting.

“I think the experience of being here the last two years helped fix a lot of mistakes we made. We still have to keep working on some things though.”

The Panthers kept that momentum going thanks to strong defense and the emergence of guard Shy Stephens-Deary.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Stephens-Deary knocked down a pair of 3-pointers midway through the third quarter to extend the Panthers lead back to 12. Stephens-Deary finished with 21 points, all of which came after halftime.

Permian led by as many as 14 points but a basket from Richardson’s Jaylon Barnett cut the deficit back down to 41-29 at the end of the third quarter. Barnett led the Eagles with 15 points while Cason Wallace had 12.

The Eagles never went away and cut the deficit down to as little as seven points midway through the fourth quarter. But Permian was able to knock down six free throws down the stretch and closed out the game scoring the final six points.

“We just got off to a slow start and when you get down early to a great team like Permian, it’s hard to come back from that,” Richardson head coach Kevin Lawson said. “Give credit to Coach Thomas because he does a great job with his kids and they played hard.”

As for the Panthers, they may have cleared one hurdle but now face another one against the defending state champions.

After how they played Friday, Thomas is confident that his team will be ready to play.

“It’s an honor to play a historic, championship program like Duncanville,” Thomas said. “It’s just good old high school basketball and we want to try to come out and give them a good game.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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