A missed 15-footer by Wills Point Tigers’ guard Jah Golden propelled the Mabank Panthers to the Region 3 quarterfinals in a 49-48 win at Forney High School.
First year coach Tracy Carter’s Panthers’ improved to 25-9 on the season.
They will face Texarkana Pleasant Grove Hawks tonight at 7 p.m. in Hallsville for a chance at the regional semifinals on Friday night.
The game will be played at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Carter relied on the senior leadership of 6-4 post David Marler, who scored a game-high 20 points.
He scored all of Mabank’s 14 points in the second quarter.
“I thought Marler's play carried us in the first half,” Carter said.
WPHS held a 15-8 lead on the Panthers’ with 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter before Marler went to work.
“Wills Point is a very good and well coached team, Carter said. “Jimmy Wallace does an outstanding job. They fought hard, it was one of those games that unfortunately you hate to see someone lose.”
With Marler’s 14 points in the second quarter, the Panthers and Tiger’s remained tied at 25-25.
Carter said the coaching staff addressed the offensive intensity at intermission.
“We addressed the lack of attacking on offense at intermission, and Landon Marshall took on the challenge,” Carter said. “He played very well in the second half and scored on some nice drives.”
In the third quarter, Marshall was able to cut the Tigers’ lead to two on two separate occasions with aggressive drives to the basket.
With time running down in the half, Marshall was able to give MHS the momentum as he drained a three at the buzzer for a 38-36 deficit.
The Tigers’ continued to put the pressure on Mabank in the final quarter as Micky Morris gave them a, 43-36 lead on an old-fashioned three point play to open the quarter.
Mabank was able to get the lead back with 2:18 remaining as Marshall scored on a layup for a 46-45 lead.
With the Panthers up, 49-45 with 28 seconds remaining the game look to be iced before Wills Point’s Darryn York found Hunter Sanford for the three-pointer and a 49-48 deficit.
“I am very proud of our team,” Carter said. “It was a collective effort, we continued to play hard and make plays when needed.”
Marshall finished with 14 points, while Garrett Graham added nine in the win.