MIDLAND Deep under the arena at the Chaparral Center, well removed from its bright, shining court floor, off around a corner and through a dimly lit hallway, packed into a visitors’ locker room, the Bronchos stewed.
It was halftime, and the Odessa High boys basketball team found itself clinging to a slim one-point lead, in what the team considered a must-win game early in the District 2-6A season, on the road Friday night against Midland High.
The Bronchos entered off of a bitter loss to their archrivals, and after another lackluster half of play, they met in the locker room in danger of losing a second straight — and during a fiery, passionate meeting, players and coaches alike knew it was time.
When they stepped out back under the lights on that court, things changed.
Odessa High powered by Midland High in the second half and rolled to a 58-44 win Friday night in the Chaparral Center, exploding out of the break to outscore Midland High 18-5 in the third quarter and seize control of the game, on the Bronchos’ way to a bounce-back win and a 2-1 mark in district play.
Isaac Hernandez led Odessa High 23 points while Miguel Fonseca added another 14, with Fonseca knocking down a 3-pointer right out of the gates in the third quarter to help spark a 9-0 Bronchos run, which stretched Odessa High’s 21-20 halftime lead to 30-20 in the opening minutes of the second half, and put the Bronchos on their way to victory.
“All of them were locked in,” Odessa High head coach Jance Morris said of Friday night’s second half.
“It just started rolling.”
That second-half surge lifted Odessa High to 18-6 on the season, and 2-1 in district, putting the Bronchos back on the winning side after a disappointing loss at Tuesday at Permian.
“We didn’t play good at Permian. We didn’t play great the first half here,” Morris said. “We talked to them at halftime and told them, ‘This is what you’re great at.’ Each individual kid, we talked to.
“They went out there, and something clicked in the second half.”
Fonseca’s 3-pointer started that big run early in the third quarter. After another Bronchos’ basket, Josh Cabello picked away a steal at midcourt and finished on the other end. After more lock-down defense, the Memo Anaya’s put-back basket inside made it 30-20 midway through the third.
Then, after a Midland High free throw broke the Bulldogs’ drought, Odessa High powered back with another 7-0 run. Hernandez knocked down two free throws, Fonseca drained another 3-pointer, then Hernandez scored another basket inside to put Odessa High up by 16 at 37-21 late in the third.
“He talked to us, and he inspired us, (speaking to) how good we are, and how much potential we have, and how good of a team we are,” Hernandez said of Morris’ halftime talk.
“We came out with some fire. We came out ready.”
The Bronchos limited the Bulldogs to just five third-quarter points. They led 39-25 at the end of the third.
“We picked up the intensity on defense,” Fonseca said. “On offense, we pushed the ball and made shots, and we got stops. That’s what got us the lead.”
Hernandez and Fonseca led a balanced Bronchos’ scoring offense. Anaya and Kaleb Murry added four points each, while Anaya’s fellow forward Cole Bordner scored 11, with nine coming in the fourth quarter as the Bronchos closed out their win.
Morris said the Bronchos put together two solid quarters in Friday night’s second half, glad the fiery halftime meeting led by him and assistant coach Anthony Dees helped bring out some of the Bronchos’ best basketball.
“We looked at each other and smiled and said, ‘Finally,’” Morris laughed. “I guess we have to do that at halftime every game,” he joked.
Fonseca knocked down two big 3-pointers in the first quarter and two more during the Bronchos’ game-deciding 16-1 run to start the third, bouncing back after one of the Bronchos’ leading scorers finished without a made basket in the loss to Permian, on an anomaly of an off night from the floor.
“Shooter’s shoot. … I was just confident, coming into this game,” Fonseca said, adding that his teammates played a big part in that.
The Bronchos host Amarillo Tascosa (18-6, 2-1) on Tuesday in another pivotal district contest.
ODESSA HIGH (18-6 overall, 2-1 District 2-6A)
Keionshay Jones 0 0-3 0, Isaac Hernandez 8 6-7 23, Josh Cabello 1 0-02 , Kaleb Murry 2 0-0 4, Miguel Fonseca 5 0-0 14, Memo Anaya 2 0-1 4, Cole Bordner 5 1-3 11. Totals 23 7-14 58.
MIDLAND HIGH (10-14, 1-2)
Daniel Elliott 3 1-2 9, Rahkiem Petterson 6 2-2 17, Nat Rodriguez 1 2-2 4, Jordan Riley 2 1-5 6, Rayshad Chambers 3 0-0 7, Suddin Sapien 0 1-2 1. Totals 15 7-13 44.
Odessa High……….. 15…. 6 18 19 — 58
Midland High………… 8.. 12 5 19 — 44
3-Point goals — Odessa High 5 (Miguel Fonseca 4, Isaac Hernandez 1), Midland High 7 (Rahkiem Petterson 3, Daniel Elliott 2, Jordan Riley 1, Rayshad Chambers 1). Total fouls — Odessa High 13, Midland High 15. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.