By BRAD KEITH
DUBLIN (January 27, 2017) — The leaders in District 6-3A raced through a game of runs at Neff Gym Friday, and it was Dublin with the final – and decisive – surge of the night.
The Lions scored 10 straight points after trailing 71-70 midway through the fourth quarter, building an 80-71 lead and ultimately holding off Coleman for a 86-78 win in a battle of district unbeatens.
Coleman used an old-fashion 3-point play to nab its final one-point advantage with 4:50 remaining, but the Lions answered with a 3-pointer to take back the lead, this time for good.
Dublin grabbed a steal on the ensuing trip down the floor and passed it ahead to Tim Teten for a layup and a 75-71 lead as the clock ticked under the midway point of the quarter. Coleman traveled, Dublin’s Trask Brown scored on a put back off an offensive rebound, then came five Lion free throws surrounding a Coleman bucket, four of them by Brady Moore to make it 82-73.
The first two of those four foul shots by Moore finished the 10-0 run before a Coleman bucket, but the Bluecats would get no closer until cutting it to 84-76 with less than a minute left. They finally pulled within six on free throws with 18 seconds remaining.
Coleman fouled the wrong guy and sent Moore back to the line, where the senior drained two more to put the game away at 86-78 with 16 seconds left.
“I thought they would run man against us, but they stuck to their zone, which I was happy with because it gave us good looks from the outside,” said second-year Dublin coach Will Parker, whose club enters the last half of 6-3A play in position to win its first district title since 2012. “We shot it really well for the most part. We were trying to hit the high post and swing the ball and for the most part we did that. And I also thought our bench came in and helped us when we needed it.”
Moore led everyone with 25 points while burying five of the team’s 16 treys.
“Everybody says live by the three, die by the three, but playing this way we always know we’re in games. We’ve come back from 20 down before, so we know we can get back into games in a hurry,” said Parker. “Our guys never stop believing. They believe in what we do and that’s the key.”
Rayce Jackson fouled out of the contest, but not until hitting three triples and scoring 19 for Dublin. Also in double figures for the Lions were Teten and Gabe Garcia with 11 and 10, respectively.
Coleman was balanced with Trey Sartain scoring 19, Xavier Nunez 18 and Bryson Hammonds 17.
The game was fast paced from the start, with Coleman jumping out to an 11-2 lead before a 13-3 Dublin run capped by a Rayce Jackson triple for the Lions’ first lead, 15-14.
Dublin led 24-20 after the first, but Coleman’s best quarter was the second, when the Bluecats got hot and the Lions couldn’t seem to buy a bucket over the final four minutes before intermission. Coleman took a 46-43 lead into the break, but it was Dublin that came out hot afterwards.
The Lions scored the first five points of the new quarter with a Garcia 3-pointer and a steal and layup by Jackson. Moments later he would hit a 3-pointer to break a 48-48 tie. Moore hit from deep to break a 55-52 tie, then Dublin 11. buried his own trey to make it 58-52. Moore took another turn from deep and also buried a short runner in the paint to make it 65-56
But as they did throughout the opening 3-plus quarters, Coleman had an answer. After falling behind 67-57, the Bluecats scored the final five points of the third and the first six of the fourth, an 11-o run for a 69-67 lead with six minutes remaining.
Dublin took the lead on, what else, a 3-pointer, at 70-69 before Coleman scored with a foul but couldn’t add the free throw and the Bluecoats were up 71-70 with 4:50 to go.
That’s where Dublin took over, not only the game, but sole possession of the top spot in the district standings.
The Lions visit Bangs Tuesday to begin the second half of league play. If Bluecats can stay within a game, the rematch on Valentine’s night at Coleman High School will determine whether the title goes to the Lions outright or is split between the 6-3A rivals.
“We have to continue to be intense every day in practice and go just as hard there as we do in games,” Parker said. “If we can continue to simulate that pace every day in practice, then we can keep carrying it over to the games.”
If it continues the way it’s gone the last five times out, the Lions will be carrying away a 6-3A championship trophy.
Note: Other scorers for the Lions were Josh Hanes with seven, Brayden Burleson five, Brown four, Jeremiah Martinez three and Elton Galbreath two.