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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian enters postseason after repeating as district champs - Odessa American: Boys

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian enters postseason after repeating as district champs

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Posted: Monday, February 18, 2019 8:31 pm

For all the tumult and turmoil endured throughout the season, the Permian boys basketball team finds itself in the same position it was a year ago — entering the playoffs as district champion.

The Panthers (24-7) take on El Paso Socorro (14-17) at 4:30 p.m. today in a Class 6A bi-district playoff at Sul Ross State’s Gallego Center in Alpine. Socorro earned the No. 4 seed out of District 1-6A with a 58-51 overtime victory against El Paso Franklin on Friday.

The winner of today’s game will face the winner of tonight’s bi-district game between Haltom City Haltom and Arlington Martin later this week in the area round.

In repeating as district champs, Permian had a tougher road than a year ago, going 8-2 in District 2-6A and losing a home district game for the first time in almost two years. The Panthers went 10-0 in district last season.

Along the way, the Panthers had to deal with a constantly changing lineup that saw only senior guard Jonathan Anaya and sophomore guard Shy Stephens-Deary appear in all 31 games.

“It’s been pretty much different guys in the starting lineup because of injuries and stuff like that, but the guys have persevered and got it done,” Permian coach Tim Thomas said.

Senior guard Genuwine Powell, who missed 11 games because of injury, returned in time for the district schedule and led the Panthers in scoring at 18.6 points per game and rebounding at 5.3 per game.

Permian got a big boost with the return of junior guard Nakaveion White, the lone returning starter off last year’s regional-tournament team who appeared in just nine games this season, for the last three district games. White scored 65 points in those three games and enters the playoffs averaging 17.7 for the season.

Getting Powell and White to mesh will be the biggest factor in determining Permian’s postseason success.

“I tell kids there are two things that help you improve — repetition and competition,” Thomas said. “Because we’ve had guys out, we haven’t been as competitive in practice as we should and we haven’t had the repetition with all the guys being here.

“But the guys that are here, our JV guys, have contributed greatly to our improvement. Our coaching staff and everybody have just stepped up and really tried to focus in on our game plan, focus in our practices, focus in on executing. We try to play great defense and hustle as a team, so it’s really paid off for us.”

With Stephens-Deary adding 12.6 points per game and leading the team in 3-point shooting (49 of 111) and Anaya chipping in with 9.5 points per game, the Panthers have scoring options other than Powell and White.

“I feel like we have plenty of weapons,” White said. “Everyone can do everything.

“With us just playing together ... we’ve been playing together forever. We have a bond and it just works together.”

Permian received one last blow just before White returned when senior post J.J. Vizcaino suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. The injury situation has forced Permian to rely more on junior forward Keyonta Johnson (5.7 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game) and bench players Jase Taylor and Peyton Lay.

“I just try to do it for my team,” Taylor said. “It’s all for the team. I just try to play my role.

“They’ve needed me sometimes and sometimes I’m on the bench.”

Having survived all the adversity could pay off for the Panthers in the postseason, Thomas said.

“We played, I think it was, 13 games without our two leading scorers and played some of those games with some kids injured and out,” he said. “I think it’s really helped make the kids who don’t have that season experience and don’t have that varsity experience grow up faster.

“They’ve been through some battles and been in the trenches, I think it’s really paid off for them.”

White said the Panthers definitely had to work to get to where they are entering the playoffs.

“I feel like going through all that made us tougher and made us stronger,” he said. “It made us the way we are today. I feel like that helped us out a lot.”

The big question, for Thomas, is are the Panthers where they need to be to compete in the playoffs?

“We’re never exactly where we need to be, but it’s a process,” Thomas said. “You want to be growing and peaking at this time of year. I think even though we don’t have all our pieces together with J.J. Vizcaino being out for two months and Calvione Calicutt being out since early December, we’ve got to take the kids that we have and try to improve.”

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