Fresh off a loss in the regular-season finale Saturday, the Permian boys basketball team entered the playoffs looking to take care of business.
The Panthers did that and guaranteed themselves at least one more game.
Permian used a swarming defense to create points off turnovers and held off a persistent El Paso Eastlake team in the second half for a 71-58 victory in a Class 6A bi-district game Monday at the Permian Fieldhouse.
Permian will face North Crowley in the area round at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Clyde. North Crowley defeated Keller Central 50-45 in overtime Monday night. El Paso Eastlake finishes the season at 11-9.
“We went up against one of the hottest teams in El Paso coming into this one,” Permian head coach Tim Thomas said. “I’m really proud of the guys that they put it together.
“We still have some things to work on to get our chemistry back and I feel like we’re going to do that.”
The Panthers (19-5) got another strong effort from Shy Stephens-Deary, who finished with a game-high 32 points. Race Herr added 14 points for Permain while Tremayne Baty had 12.
Permian jumped out to a fast start with an early 9-3 run that eventually turned into a 20-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Stephens-Deary and Baty accounted for all 11 points in the second quarter for the Panthers, who kept the Falcons in check. Permian led by as many as 19 points before taking a 31-15 lead into the locker room.
Permian quickly extended its lead to 20 points with a pair of quick baskets from Herr and Baty. Eastlake had an answer, however, with an 11-3 run to give itself a chance.
The offensive spark was led by Julian Romero, who finished with a team-high 24 points. Nate Rodriguez and Josh Vasquez each added 11 for Eastlake.
Eastlake got within 11 points in the third quarter but was unable to get any closer as Permian was able to come up with timely baskets and free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
Stephens-Deary closed the game by scoring the Panthers’ final 12 points.
“It means a lot to be able to close the game out like that,” Stephens-Deary said. “We just have to keep working and getting better. I couldn’t do it without these guys on my team and now we just have to keep going hard and getting ready for the next game.”
Thomas added: “Shy likes to step up in big games. He didn’t want to go out with a loss in his last home game. He wants to have a really big playoff run and hopefully we can do that.”
On the other sideline, Eastlake head coach Johnny Crawford credited his team for the fight it showed down the stretch. The Falcons won four of their last five games prior to Monday’s contest to earn a postseason berth.
“I liked the fight that our guys showed,” Crawford said. “We’re a scrappy bunch and capable of being explosive offensively but give credit to Permian. They play to their strengths very well and we just couldn’t throw them off balance. We just started out poorly in the first quarter and that ended up being the major difference.
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