Marshall’s basketball team got the final result it wanted on senior night Friday night when the Mavericks escaped the Nacogdoches Dragons in a 69-65 final.
The win puts the Mavericks in first place in the district as they hold an overall record of 28-7 and 12-1 in district play. The Dragons are now 25-9 overall and 11-2 against district opponents.
“Right now, we’re in first place,” Marshall boys head basketball coach Bobby Carson said. “We can win the district championship outright by winning on Tuesday. If we lose, we’re going to be in second place because of a power-rating system because they beat Lufkin twice and Lufkin is going to finish third.”
Savion Williams led the Mavericks in scoring with 26 points. Chris Leonard was next in line with 22 and Lyrik Rawls scored 13. James Thomas came away with four points while Jaeden Knox and Kevin Pinson each finished the night with four points.
Nana Boasiako led the Dragons in scoring with 26 points. Right behind him were Zykarious Swindle and Deonte Jackson, both of whom scored 16 points. Eddie Cross tossed in five points while Amos Johnson scored two points.
Jackson went to the foul line where he went 1-of-2 to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead. Swindle added to that lead with a pair of buckets to make it a 5-0 ballgame. Leonard put the Mavericks on the board with a three before Williams came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast to tie the game up at 5. Boasiako went 1-of-2 from the foul line to put the Dragons back on top. Jackson drained a three before Knox answered with a jumper. Boasiako knocked down a jumper of his own one possession before going 2-for-2 from the free-throw line on his team’s next possession.
Rawls made a pass around the back to Williams who scored the first points of the second quarter. Jackson added another layup to score his team’s first points of the quarter. Cross tipped in a missed shot to give Nac a 17-9 lead. After a pair of Nac free throws, Williams came up with an and-one. Williams then came up with a rebound to give the ball back to the Mavs. The possession ended in Marshall’s second straight three-point play when Leonard sank a shot from beyond the arc and that led to the Mavericks tying it up at 19 apiece. Jackson knocked down a pair of threes before Rawls pulled the trigger on a shot from three-point range that found its way into the net. Williams then made both foul shots on his next trip to the line. That put Marshall within one point, 25-24. Rawls tied it up and gave his team its first lead of the night by going 2-for-2. Boasiako scored under the basket to steal the lead back for his team before Swindle stole the in-bounds pass to spread that lead to three points. Swindle scored the last points of the first half from the free-throw line to give the Dragons a 34-26 halftime lead.
Williams scored the first points of the second half before the Dragons capitalized on a fast break to spread the Dragons’ lead to 36-28. Boasiako drained two free throws to give Nacogdoches’ first double-digit lead. Leonard’s bucket brought it back to eight points. A bucket from Johnson and another from Swindle were followed by buckets from Pinson and Rawls to make the score 42-35. Jackson’s layup made it a nine-point lead for the Dragons and forced the Mavericks to call timeout with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Moments later, Williams went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line to cut his team’s deficit to five points. Swindle drained a three before Williams came up with a bucket on the other end to score the last points of the third quarter, making the score 49-43 as the two teams entered the fourth quarter.
Thomas picked off a pass and took it the other way to score the first points of the fourth quarter. Swindle scored from under the basket to spread Nac’s lead to six points, 51-45. Nac scored the next four points before two shots were missed on the other end and the third shot was a tip in by Williams to make the score 53-47. Williams scored the next points as he was fouled down low and added the free throw to complete the three-point play to put the Mavs within three points, 53-50. Boasiako made it a two-possession game with a pair of free throws. Leonard returned the favor to make the score 55-52. After a pair of Nacogdoches free throws, Leonard drained a three to bring the score to 57-55.
Williams then tied it up at 57 and tacked on the free throw to give the Mavericks a 58-57 lead with 2:26. Leonard added to his team’s lead with yet another three to make it 61-57 before Boasiako knocked it in off the glass on a reverse layup, to put Nac within two points. Leonard added a jumper. Cross drained a shot from downtown to make it a two-point game yet again as Marshall called timeout. Leonard knocked down two free throws before Boasiako drained a three to make the score 66-65 with 33 seconds to play. Rawls was fouled and sent to the line where he went 1-of-2. That made the score 67-65. Nac’s next possession came to an end when the ref blew the whistle and the ref called traveling. That gave the ball back to Marshall with 11 seconds left. Leonard was fouled with six seconds and sent to the line. He made them both to score the last points of the night and help the Mavs seal up the 69-65 win.
“I told the kids, ‘I will never ask you to put the team on your back and carry the team,’ then Savion, I talked to him last night and he said, ‘I want the ball,’” Carson added. “I said, ‘We’ll get you the ball if you really want the ball.’ He called for it because he wanted it and he did something with it. That’s a sign of a great player, although he had help. Lyrik made some key free throws and key plays. Chris Leonard is Chris Leonard. He kind of got on track in the second half, got himself loose and got his jump shot off. James Thomas, I can’t say enough about him coming off the bench and rebounding and that huge steal and put back he had. In a game like this, every possession is crucial. Honestly, the difference between winning and losing is two or three plays. It was a team effort. Everybody contributed something. The guys who didn’t play, or didn’t play much, were into it on the bench.”
Marshall will return to action for its final district game of the season in Lufkin before entering the playoffs.