“This was such an important game,” Lennon said. ”We knew that these are the guys we’ve been battling in district and we’re only one win above them. We knew coming in this was the biggest game of the season that we’ve had so far.”
No matter what situation was put in front of Josh Lennon and his teammates on Saturday, they didn’t flinch.
Heading into the second half of district play, Cinco Ranch are in the thick of the District 19-6A playoff race and currently sit in the fourth and final playoff spot in the district.
That just made Saturday’s game against Katy all the bigger for the Cougars.
“This was such an important game,” said junior guard Josh Lennon. ”We knew that these are the guys we’ve been battling in district and we’re only one win above them. We knew coming in this was the biggest game of the season that we’ve had so far.”
Cinco came into Saturday needing a win to stay alone in the final playoff spot in district. A loss to Katy would leave the two tied for the fourth spot, with no team owning the tiebreaker between them.
The Cougars were up to the challenge, overcoming a five-point halftime deficit to beat the Tigers 58-55 in a game that was wire to wire with exciting play.
“It was huge to get this win,” said Hunter Betke, a senior. “I know as a senior I want to make sure I made playoffs for the last time and get one more long run into the end of my final year. So it was awesome to get this, just a super important win for us. To get that tiebreaker over Katy was the biggest things. Even if we don’t play as well as we want, just knowing we have that in case we tie is huge.”
Cinco held a 16-14 lead on Katy after the first quarter, but Katy came back with a strong second quarter, and built a 28-23 lead. The Cougars though fought back in the third and got back to the gameplan while also making adjustments, and the Cougars took a 45-42 lead heading into the fourth.
“We made a few adjustments,” said Cinco Ranch head coach Neil King. “I didn’t think we rebounded the ball extremely well in the first half. I thought that we gave them some second and third opportunities. So defensively we really focused on just limiting them to one shot. Offensively we started to move the ball a bit more with the pass and not the dribble and we were able to do that. We made a few adjustments, but I give all the credit to the players, they executed the gameplan perfectly.”
Cinco continued to cling on to a slim lead in the final minutes of the game and shifted to their offensive approach to holding on to the ball as much possible and limiting Katy’s possessions. The Cougars continued to run the clock out or get good shots out of possessions until Katy was forced to foul to stay in the game. The Cougars could only use that offensive approach because of the amount of players on the team that can handle the ball.
“We’re very fortunate where we have multiple guys who can handle the ball,” King said. “It’s not just one guys, and that’s a nice luxury to have. I could go on and on about all the guys who can handle the ball and that’s something we work one everyday in practice. Katy played extremely hard and is a great team. I’m just happy with our kids and their resiliency.”
Katy got within three with a minute and 30 second left in the game, but Cinco held on from there and didn’t allow the Tigers to score the rest of the way.
While the win gave the room space for the fourth spot in district, the Cougars know they will need to stay focused down the stretch as they hope to move up further in the standings and clinch a higher playoff spot.
“We just have to keep working hard in practice and keep getting better,” Betke said. “We were tired with how much we worked this week, but we’ll get our day of rest in and come back ready to work on Monday. We have that fire in our minds knowing that we have a pretty good shot at playoffs now.”
Cinco Ranch 58, Katy 55
Points: (CR) Josh Lennon 16, Omer Saied 13, Drew Joyce 12, Jones Bynum Prince 7, Derek Kollmansberger 6, Hunter Betke 4; (K) Aydan Perdue 20, Dayvaughn Froe 13, Cason Cole 10, Travis Evans 8, Cooper Williams 3
Halftime: Katy 28-23; 3-pointers: (CR) Joyce 2, Lennon; (K) Perdue 2, Cole 2, Evans 2, Froe, Williams; Records: Cinco Ranch 14-15, 4-3; Katy 13-16, 3-5
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