WACO — The Malakoff Tigers made their way down to Midway High School in Waco on Friday for the regional semifinals, their second straight appearance, against the Diboll Lumberjacks.
It was a thriller from start to finish between the Jacks and Tigers, but Diboll held off Malakoff down the stretch to win the semifinal championship and wrap up the Tigers’ season.
Diboll ran out to the 7-0 lead before a 6-2 Tiger stretch, with four points by Klayton Copeland, cut it to 9-6.
As Javaughn Luster made it 11-6, Malakoff used another 6-2 run and trailed 13-12 with 2:05 in the first quarter.
Diboll made it 16-12 with a three-pointer, but baskets by Haydin Thomas and Karter Fuller tied it at 16-16. D’aris McMillan had a layup at the buzzer and the score was 18-16 Lumberjacks after the first quarter.
Following Byron Poindexter’s basket to open the second, four points by Copeland and a field goal from Andreas Garrett gave the Tigers their first lead at 22-20.
Diboll’s 8-2 stretch gave them the lead back at 28-24 with 2:20 until the break.
Copeland closed the first half with five straight and Malakoff led 29-28. He had 15 points in the first half.
The teams exchanged baskets and possessions until Malakoff led 40-36 with 3:55 in the third quarter. However, Diboll picked up momentum and closed the third with an 8-0 run and led 44-40 going into the last eight minutes.
The Lumberjacks continued their streak and went up by twelve, 52-40. Copeland’s and-1 plus free throw and Garrett’s free throw were the first Tiger points since under four minutes in the third quarter as Malakoff trailed 52-44 with 4:14 left to play.
Luster made it 54-44 before Thomas trimmed it to 54-46.
With the score at 56-46 with 1:45, Klayton Copeland quickly scored six straight and Malakoff trailed 56-52 with 33.9 seconds.
Byron Poindexter built the lead to 57-52 with a free throw and Garrett pulled Malakoff within three, 57-54, with 14.7 seconds left. Another free throw from Poindexter iced the game with 10 seconds remaining and the Lumberjacks defeated the Tigers for the regional semifinal title.
The Tigers (28-6) close the year as district champs, bi-district champs, area champs, regional quarterfinal champs and semifinalists.