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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Panthers face Trailblazers in regional quarterfinal playoff - Odessa American: Boys

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Panthers face Trailblazers in regional quarterfinal playoff

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Posted: Monday, February 25, 2019 5:34 pm

The Permian boys basketball team is one game away from repeating last season’s run to the Region I-6A tournament.

All that stands in the way of the Panthers (26-7) and a return to Fort Worth’s Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center is 20th-ranked El Paso Americas, a team Permian has already beaten twice by double digits.

The District 2-6A champion Panthers and District 1-6A champion Trailblazers (29-7) meet at 6 tonight at Sul Ross State’s Gallego Center in Alpine in a regional quarterfinal playoff. The winner will face the winner of tonight’s game between No. 2 Denton Guyer and Mansfield Lake Ridge on Friday in the regional semifinals.

Permian coach Tim Thomas said the Panthers’s path to success is clear, if not exactly easy.

“As a team, you’ve got to do the things you do best,” Thomas said. “Americas is going to do what they do best and we’re going to try to do what we do best. We’re going to try to stop them from doing what they do best and they’re going to try to stop us from doing what we do best.

“At this point, it comes down to teams executing and doing what they do best. At the end, players make the plays. They make the free throws, they make the passes, they make the baskets. As a coach, you try to put them in position to win.”

Permian defeated Americas 60-40 on Dec. 6 in the Tall City Oilman’s Invitational in Midland, then beat the Trailblazers 44-34 on Dec. 14 at the Permian Fieldhouse. But both teams were missing key players early in the season.

Americas was without leading scorer and rebounder Angel Gutierrez, who is averaging 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds, in the first meeting. Gutierrez scored 10 points in the second meeting.

Permian was without leading scorers Genuwine Powell and Nakavieon White the first time around, though Powell played in the second game against the Trailblazers.

“I know we’ve got two wins over them, but we’ve still got to go in like we’ve never played them before,” Powell said. “We’ve got to go in with the same mentality, aggressive. We’ve got to beat them.”

Permian is coming off a 48-45 victory over Arlington Martin on Friday in the area round, while Americas defeated Hurst L.D. Bell 61-51. Powell said the Panthers’ ability to hold on in a close game against Martin can only help the deeper the team advances in the playoffs.

“Games like (Friday’s) make us come together better as a team,” he said. “It gives us more confidence and helps us believe in ourselves. We can make plays.”

Senior guard Jonathan Anaya said Friday’s victory highlighted the importance of every possession.

“In close games, you’ve got to execute and get the offense down and play really good defense,” Anaya said.

White and Anaya are the only players on the year’s roster who played in last season’s regional tournament. Thomas said even that little bit of experience is a plus.

“Any kind of experience you get in life helps you,” Thomas said. “I think our guys have done a great job of doing it over the years. I’m just really proud of them. Again, you’re at the mercy of the players and fortunately our guys have been coming through.”

In addition to Gutierrez, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, the Trailblazers feature guards Joseph De Anda (9.5 points, 2.4 rebounds), Eric Casteneda (8.9, 1.8) and Tyler Wilson (6.8, 3.4).

“Americas is a very well-coached team,” Thomas said. “They’re very deliberate. They run the offense until they get what they want. They’re big. They’re the champions of their district.

“We’ve played them twice already this year, but you’ve got to throw those records out because the best player didn’t play. It ought to be a good game.”

Anaya said the Panthers have the proper mindset to extend their season.

“We’re ready,” he said. “We’re going to get it.”

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