ABILENE The Permian Panthers took another step in an historic season Tuesday, defeating Arlington Bowie 47-43 in a Class 6A boys regional quarterfinal playoff at Abilene High’s Eagle Gymnasium.
With its 23rd consecutive victory, No. 16 Permian (31-3) advances to the Region I-6A tournament for the first time since 1998.
“These kids deserve it,” Panthers coach Tim Thomas said. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked. They’ve worked hard. They believe in what we’re telling them, in what we’re doing. They believe in each other.
“It’s great not just for our kids, but for our school, our community, our parents and supporters, the fans. It’s just been a positive experience for the kids to set a goal to accomplish something, and be able to have a chance to accomplish it.”
The Panthers will play No. 1 Denton Guyer (37-1) at 8 p.m. Friday at Fort Worth’s Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. Guyer advanced Tuesday with a 79-77 victory over South Grand Prairie.
Brother Miller scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Panthers with Elijah White adding nine points. Nakavieon White scored six points, Zach McGee five, Ozzy Terrazas four and Derrick Wright one.
Bowie (23-13) was led by Cade Cunningham with 12 points, while Quenton Morris added eight points off the bench. Kevin Jennings chipped in seven points for the Volunteers with Frank Ezeonu and Malcolm Mays scoring six apiece.
While Bowie outshot Permian from the floor — hitting 15 of 37 attempts (40.5 percent) to Permian’s 13 of 41 (31.7 percent) — and finished with a 34-29 rebounding advantage, the Panthers hit 16 of 28 free throws and forced the Volunteers into 17 turnovers.
Permian shot just 25 percent in the first quarter, missing its first six shots as Bowie opened up a 9-3 lead. That was the largest advantage the Volunteers had as the Panthers chipped away in the second quarter, briefly taking a 16-15 lead before Bowie finished the half with a 20-17 edge.
“We’ve been averaging about 59 or 60 points a game and we didn’t score but 17 the first half,” Thomas said. “I told the kids that’s going to change, but if we hold them to 20-something points (in the second half), we’re going to win the game.
“We held them to 23 and our defense was the difference in the ballgame.”
As they did in their area-round victory over Keller Central, the Panthers turned the tide in the second quarter and kept building momentum in the third.
“We just started executing the offense and making plays on defense,” Miller said. “We started talking and communicating, getting each other focused and locked in.
“Even before the game, we talked about the keys to victory. One of them was communication and intensity, being fired up on defense to stop them.”
After hitting just one of 12 3-point attempts in the first half, Permian was 3 of 7 from behind the arc in the third quarter. Elijah White’s second 3-pointer with 4:13 left in the period put the Panthers in front to stay. Permian took its biggest lead at 38-30 when Miller hit a pair of free throws with 5:03 remaining in the game.
Bowie kept the pressure on, but Permian was able to protect the lead. The Volunteers made it a one-possession game on three occasions, the last at 45-43 on a 3-pointer by Morris with 47 seconds left, but missed a 3-pointer to tie with eight seconds left and threw away the rebound.
Permian made four of six free throws in the final 1:03 to hang on. Elijah White made three of four and Wright clinched it by making one of two with 5.4 seconds left.
“Every day in practice, Coach talks to us about the points in free throws,” White said. “We practice shooting free throws every day when we’re tired, so in a game situation and you’re tired, you have the mentality to knock them down.”
Permian Panthers receiving the trophy after Tuesday’s 47-43 victory over Arlington Bowie in the Region I-6A quarterfinals pic.twitter.com/5shZIi3XHD
— Sam Waller (@OA_Waller) February 28, 2018
CLASS 6A REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Tuesday, Abilene HS
ARLINGTON BOWIE (23-13)
Cade Cunningham 4 2-4 12, Ja’lon Hunter 0 0-0 0, Kevin Jennings 2 2-4 7, Frank Ezeonu 3 0-1 6, Malcolm Mays 3 0-0 6, Will Roberts 1 2-2 4, Kamron Smalls 0 0-0 0, Quenton Morris 2 2-2 8, Emmanuel Lumanze 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 9-13 43.
Brother Miller 8 4-7 22, Elijah White 2 3-5 9, Nakavieon White 1 4-6 6, Justin Hammond 0 0-2 0, Ozzy Terrazas 0 4-6 4, Fabian Flotte 0 0-0 0, Derrick Wright 0 1-2 1, Zach McGee 2 0-0 5. Totals 13 16-28 47.
Bowie…………………. 11…. 9 10 13 — 43
Permian……………….. 5.. 12 16 14 — 47
3-Point goals — Bowie 4 (Cunningham 1, Jennings 1, Morris 2), Permian 5 (Miller 3, E.White 2, McGee 1). Fouled out — Roberts. Technical fouls — none. Total fouls — Bowie 24, Permian 11.