HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Willis, Carreon, Rose pace Bronchos’ bi-district victory

The Odessa High boys basketball team led from start to finish against El Paso Eastwood.

That said, it wasn’t a walk in the park for the Bronchos.

LJ Willis had a game-high 22 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to led Odessa High to a 57-46 victory against the Troopers in Class 6A bi-district playoff game Tuesday at the OHS Fieldhouse.

Ivan Carreon added 14 points and Coco Rose finished with 13 in the victory.

The Bronchos (25-8) advanced to face the North Crowley-V.R. Eaton winner in the area round.

Leading comfortably for most of the contest, Odessa High saw El Paso Eastwood (24-8) cut a nine-point deficit to three (49-46) with 3:50 remaining in the game on back-to-back 3-pointers from George Garcia and a layup from Isaac Mora.

Carreon, however, answered with a pair of layups on the offensive end and then used his 6-foot-6 frame to alter one Troopers’ shot and block two more in the final moments of the game.

Mora led El Paso Eastwood with 18 points, with Garcia finishing with 13.

“We got what we expected from them,” Odessa High coach Neal Welch said. “They get after it on defense, on offense, they do a really, really good job.

“We focused on getting a good start, scoring at the rim. I knew that we had a little bit of a size advantage on them, so we really tried to get in the paint and score early.”

Nothing game easy for the visiting Troopers in the first half as the Bronchos contested every pass, clogged the passing lanes and pulled down every missed shot.

So proficient was the Odessa High defense that El Paso Eastwood didn’t score its first points until there were less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

At that point, the Bronchos led 10-0, thanks to the aggressive work of Rose, Jaylen McCowan and Willis on the perimeter as they looked to drive on every possession, with Carreon there to finish when the Troopers swarmed in defense.

El Paso Eastwood had some success driving to the basket to start the second quarter, with three straight possessions finishing with field goals in the paint.

Odessa High, however, never flinched.

Willis hit a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a Carreon offensive rebound and put back.

Rose then capped the first-half scoring with a steal at midcourt and finish at the other end, giving the Bronchos a 24-15 heading into halftime:

Willis led the Bronchos with 10 points at the break, with Carreon adding eight and Rose 6.

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide