• December 6, 2019

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian runs past El Paso Americas after slow start - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian runs past El Paso Americas after slow start

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Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 10:11 pm

ALPINE It's not how you start, but how you finish.

The Permian Panthers overcame a rough opening period Tuesday to defeat No. 20 El Paso Americas 39-33 in a Class 6A boys basketball regional quarterfinal playoff game at Sul Ross State University’s Gallego Center Tuesday in Alpine.

The victory moved the Panthers into the Class 6A Region I Tournament for the second consecutive season.

Permian (27-7) will play No. 2 Denton Guyer at 8 p.m. Friday in a regional semifinal at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth. Guyer advanced Tuesday with an 82-66 victory over Mansfield Lake Ridge.

Americas, bidding to become the first El Paso team to reach a regional tournament in the state's largest classification since El Paso Hanks reached the Region I-5A tourney in 2012, held an 11-point lead with five minutes remaining in the first half before Permian caught fire.

The victory was Permian's third of the season against the Trailblazers. The Panthers won 60-40 on Dec. 6 at the Tall City Oilman's Invitational in Midland and 44-34 on Dec. 14 at the Permian Fieldhouse.

"They're a really tough, good team, well coached, experienced, senior-oriented team," Permian coach Tim Thomas said of the Trailblazers. "They've been here. They've been in the playoffs, I think, four straight years. We knew it was going to be a battle. It's difficult to win three times against a good team.

"But this team, these Mojo basketball players, they've really persevered. They work hard and come with the right attitude. They don't always focus, but they always come with the effort and the hustle and the defense. It really paid off for us today."

The Panthers were just 1-of-13 shooting in the first quarter as the Trailblazers (29-8) took a 10-3 lead. Permian scored 21 points over the last 4:44 of the half, embarking on a 19-2 run to take the lead.

"I called timeout and kind of reevaluated things," Thomas said. "We talked about our preparation leading up. Now, we've got to turn it around and go compete and make things happen. It's players that make things happen, and the kids went out there and made things happen."

Permian regrouped from the woeful start to shoot 52 percent (13 of 25) over the last three quarters and finished 14 of 38 (36.8 percent) from the field. Meanwhile, Americas shot 32.5 percent (13 of 40) overall and just 12.5 percent (2 of 16) from 3-point range.

Nakavieon White and Shy Stephens-Deary, who each scored 10 points to lead the Panthers, each scored eight points in the second quarter to spark the run. White hit a 3-pointer with 4:44 to go and Stephens-Deary stole the ball and scored eight seconds later to get things started.

"I feel that really helped us out a lot," White said of his first basket. "That gave us the energy boost that we needed. At the beginning, our shots weren't falling. But when I hit that shot, it picked it up for everyone."

Stephens-Deary, who scored six points in three minutes to get Permian back into a one-possession game, said the comeback was fueled by the Panthers' refusal to give up.

"We just had to not quit, keep fighting and make every easy shot we could and just play them tough," he said.

Genuwine Powell, who put Permian in front to stay at 17-16 on a 3-pointer with 2:19 left in the first half, finished with eight points for Permian.

"We all told ourselves we need to get our stuff together," Powell said of the slow start. "We made a run and everybody started picking it up."

Americas was led by Joseph De Anda and Angel Gutierrez with eight points apiece, while Tyler Wilson added six points off the bench. The Trailblazers took their largest lead at 14-3 on a Gutierrez free throw with 5:00 left in the second quarter.

Permian took its largest lead at 24-16 on Stephens-Deary's basket with 36 seconds left in the half before settling for a six-point advantage at the break.

Americas kept the pressure on throughout the second half, staying within four points most of the way. The Trailblazers got within a point at 31-30 on Christian Andrus' 3-pointer with 7:06 left in the game, but Permian scored the next four points to gain some separation.

"It was tough because (the Trailblazers) are a really good team,"" Powell said of the second half. "Our coaches really pushed us to do better."

After a Permian timeout with 1:58 to go, the Panthers ran off more than a minute — forcing Americas to commit three fouls in an attempt to put Permian on the line — before Keyonta Johnson hit a layup with 51 seconds left to make it 37-32. Powell sealed it with a pair of free throws with 11.7 seconds remaining.

Follow Sam Waller on Twitter at @OA_Waller


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