FORT WORTH Permian gave its best shot.
After making the five-hour drive from Odessa to compete in the Region I-6A Tournament for the first time since 1998, the Panthers walked onto the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center’s floor knowing the task ahead of them.
Permian had to take down the top team in the state, Denton Guyer, to keep its season alive Friday night. The Wildcats had a clear size and athletic advantage, with several players committed or with offers to play Division I basketball.
The Panthers tried to pull the upset, but couldn’t find enough to combat the well-rounded Wildcats.
No. 1 Denton Guyer defeated Permian 58-48. Oklahoma commit and Denton Guyer guard De’Vion Harmon led all scorers with 18 points. Brother Miller led the Panthers with 16. Elijah White was the only other Permian player to score in double figure with 12 points.
“The kids battled, didn’t give up,” Permian head coach Tim Thomas said. “They represented Odessa and Permian High School really well.”
Permian senior post Ozzy Terrazas said the Panthers needed their best effort against the Wildcats.
“We could have played better, our turnovers were the thing that gave us up,” Terrazas said. “I’m very proud of our guys for what we accomplished this year. I love them to death, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. Unfortunately, everything’s got to come to an end.”
Permian finished the season 31-4 and had its 23-game win streak is snapped with the loss, having gone undefeated since losing to Haltom City Haltom on Dec. 8. Denton Guyer advances to play Allen in the Region I-6A final. The Eagles defeated North Crowley 73-67 in the other regional semifinal.
“This group has come a long, long way,” Thomas said. “I just know that this group in this era, they were a great team, a fun team to watch, played with a lot of heart and really got better and better as the season went on.”
The Panthers came into the game knowing not many east of Odessa thought they had a shot at knocking off the Wildcats. In the game’s opening moments however, Permian jumped out to a lead and forced a few Denton Guyer turnovers.
The teams traded leads until the middle of the second quarter when Permian’s offense couldn’t find a way to the hoop. Whether the Panthers drove straight at the Wildcats or tried to find an open man on the perimeter, Denton Guyer’s speed left no room for Permian to run its offense.
The Panthers only scored five points in the second quarter, forcing them to change things up during halftime.
In the third quarter, Thomas moved 6-foot-1 Miller into a low-post position offensively where he played with no fear. He battled with 6-foot-10 Georgetown commit Grayson Carter and 6-foot-8 JaKobe Coles and claimed just as many rebounds as those adversaries did.
“I guess in the Metroplex-area we’re supposed to be intimated … that didn’t matter to me,” Miller said. “I know we’re about competing in West Texas and I tried to keep that in my head, they put on that jersey just like I do. What am I going to be scared of?”
The Wildcats’ advantages took their toll on the Panthers as the game rolled on, however, as Permian was outclassed at times by Harmon’s agility and Le’Tre Darthard’s willingness to not give up on any play.
Trailing by eight heading into the final quarter, Permian had to change up its strategy to allow for more chances on offense. That left Permian’s defense exposed and Denton Guyer took advantage with a few easy transition baskets.
Although Permian held Denton Guyer without a 3-pointer, the Panthers couldn’t find their own 3-point form, with Elijah White hitting both of the game’s field goals from beyond the arc. Permian graduates six seniors from this year’s team.
“(They’ve) been the best group of seniors,” Thomas said. “The kids are golden. I’ve just been blessed to coach them.”
Miller said Permian’s senior class leaves a solid legacy.
“I feel like we’re going to go down as tough and that’s what Mojo means to me, it means never giving up and always fighting to the finish,” Miller said. “I feel like that’s what we represented tonight and we didn’t come out with the win and all that kind of stuff, but I feel like we earned respect from this team and even going down the line.”
REGION I-6A SEMIFINALS
At Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center
DENTON GUYER (38-1)
Le’tre Darthard 2 2-4 6, Jalen Wilson 4 2-2 10, De’Vion Harmon 6 6-7 18, JaKobe Coles 3 3-6 9, Grayson Carter 1 0-2 2, Brandon Bird 0 2-2 2, Chris Craig 4 1-2 9. Totals 20 16-23 58.
Brother Miller 5 6-9 16, Elijah White 5 0-2 12, Nakavieon White 0 3-4 3, Justin Hammond 1 2-2 4, Ozzy Terrazas 3 1-3 7, Fabian Flotte 0 0-0 0, Derrick Wright 3 0-3 6, Zach McGee 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 12-23 48.
Guyer…………………. 12.. 12 15 19 — 58
Permian……………… 13…. 5 13 17 — 48
3-Point goals — Permian 2 (E.White 2). Total fouls — Guyer 19, Permian 17. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.