HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Panthers fall to Bulldogs in battle for 2-6A lead

MIDLAND The Midland High Bulldogs took sole possession of first place in the District 2-6A boys basketball race Friday with a 65-52 victory over the Permian Panthers.

The loss snapped Permian’s 14-game district winning streak, which dated to the 2016-17 season, and knocked the Panthers (17-6 overall, 2-1 district) into a tie for second in the district standings with Amarillo Tascosa.

Midland High (16-10, 3-0) started the game on a 12-2 run after spotting Permian the opening basket and led the rest of the way. Permian got as close as 46-42 early in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs pulled away over the final six minutes.

Permian coach Tim Thomas said playing in Midland High’s bandbox gymnasium was a factor, expecially when the Bulldogs’ early surge got the home crowd into the game.

“The atmosphere was great here,” Thomas said. “When you’ve got a bunch of kids who never played a varsity game — right now we’ve got one that has — and you lose nine or 10 guys from a senior team, that’s what happens.”

“When you start out the game down, you have to battle your way back. It was too big of a hill to climb tonight.”

Genuwine Powell scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Panthers, while Jonathan Anaya added 13 points and Shy Stephens-Deary scored seven points off the bench.

Midland High countered with four starters in double figures. Rakheim Petterson led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Nate Rodriguez and 6-foot-8 post Brett Canis each scored 14 and Xadrian Van Buren finished with 11.

Van Buren hit a pair of 3-pointers and Petterson had a third to fuel Midland High’s early run. The Bulldogs led 21-8 on Petterson’s basket with 1:02 remaining in the opening period.

“That’s kind of our M.O.,” Midland High coach Shan Hooker said of the fast start. “We’ve been doing that all year and we’ve been having a little bit of a struggle maintaining it.”

“Permian cut it down to four, but the boys are resilient. They’ll go get a defensive rebound, a steal or something and go down and hit a key bucket. We’ve been here before like that.”

Midland High led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter before Permian pulled within nine at halftime. The Panthers cut the margin to seven midway through the third quarter, but the Bulldogs ran off the next six points to go up 43-30 with 1:36 left in the period.

Anaya opened the fourth quarter with eight points in the first two minutes, hitting a 3-pointer to get the Panthers within 46-42 with 6:11 remaining. Midland High responded with an 8-2 run to push the lead back to double digits and Permian was never closer than five over the final four minutes. The Bulldogs closed the game with an 11-2 run over the final three minutes.