Sunday, May 26, 2024

Indians outlast Itasca slowdown play to advance to regional tourney

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The Itasca Wampus Cats tried a different approach in their Class 2A Region 2 quarterfinals basketball game against the Lipan Indians Tuesday night, Feb. 28 in Aledo.

Don’t let the Indians have the ball and they can’t score.

It didn’t work, because part of the reason the Indians (33-1) are ranked No. 1 in the state is they can also play defense. So, instead of scoring their season average of 70 points, the Indians only needed slightly more than half that in a 37-24 victory.

With the win, Lipan returns to the Region 2 Tournament at McKinney North High School. They will play Wolfe City (19-14) Friday starting at 5 p.m. The winner will meet the winner between Tolar (29-7) and Sam Rayburn (29-6) in the championship game Saturday at 1 p.m.

Lipan and Tolar have played twice this season as they are both in District 11-2A. Lipan won both meetings to take the league title and Tolar finished second.

Against Itasca (19-14), the runner-up from District 12, the Indians led 10-9 after the first quarter before going on a 12-1 run over the course of the second period for a 22-10 halftime lead. They led the Wampus Cats 31-20 entering the final quarter before again clamping down on defense, outscoring them 6-4.

Lipan was led by Garrett Smith with 12 points, while Tripp Phillips added seven.

“I was proud of our kids’ defensive intensity. Itasca came out and held the ball at the beginning of the game. We did a good job keeping our composure and were able to make some plays on both ends of the court,” said Lipan head coach Brent Gaylor. “We had a great second quarter to extend our lead and then we were able to hold the ball for much of the fourth quarter and run out the clock.”

Despite the low score, a difference in the game was three-point baskets. Lipan hit five, including four by Smith, while the Wampus Cats made just one. Otherwise, each team hit 10 two-point shots while Lipan was 2-of-5 shooting free throws and Itasca was 1-of-2.