The clock is starting to tick, with one game left before playoffs every point counts.
Paschal’s playoff aspirations were on the line Friday night in Arlington; the Panthers kept those hopes alive with an important 52-49 away victory.
Arlington Heights continued their recent struggles in a 78-63 home defeat to district champions Wyatt, while Country Day’s season is over after not qualifying for the conference tournament.
This weekend’s local high school basketball round-up:
With one quarter left on Friday night against Arlington, it seemed that Paschal’s playoff hopes were slipping away.
The Panthers struggled to score all night and were trailing 40-29 with eight minutes remaining.
A 23-point explosion in the fourth quarter from the Panthers gave them a 52-49 victory and put them in control over their own destiny, with one game before the playoffs.
Senior guard, Billy Hill, led the Panthers with 16 points, while Jaedaun Slack had 18 points for Arlington.
Paschal jumped out to a 9-2 lead early in the game thanks to hot shooting and solid defense. Arlington started to play a better game after timeout, but the Panthers held on to a 21-20 halftime lead.
Things fell apart for Paschal in the third quarter. Arlington came out of the locker room aggressive, and 12 third-quarter points for Slack gave them an 11-point lead heading into the final period.
Improvements on both ends of the floor aided the Panther’s fourth-quarter comeback. Offensively, the team began to shoot three-pointers, and defensively head coach Matt Shabay adjusted his zone defense to prevent Slack from receiving the ball.
Poor free-throw shooting down the stretch from Arlington gave Paschal the ball with 20 seconds left on the clock. Hill drove into the heart of Arlington’s defense, drawing a controversial blocking foul on Slack.
Slack then drew a technical foul for complaining about the call, giving Paschal the chance to hit important free throws and pull out a three-point win after Arlington missed their buzzer-beater attempt.
David Wamstad was also in double figures for Paschal with 11 points. Royce Mendez (9 points) and Jack Simanek (8 points) all played big roles for Shabay’s team in the final period.
The win moves Paschal into a tie with Arlington for fourth place in the district at 7-8. If the two teams remain tied after their final district games, there is a possibility of a play-in game later this week. The tie can also be decided by a coin flip.
Paschal closes their regular season on Tuesday at home against Bowie. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Yellowjackets were not successful Friday night, falling at home to Wyatt 78-63.
The loss was the third in a row for Arlington Heights and drops them to 7-6 in district play. Despite their recent form, a win in their final district game would ensure they clinch the fourth and final playoff spot in their district.
Arlington Heights wraps up their regular season Tuesday at North Side (3-10 in district) at 6 p.m.
The men’s basketball season is over for the Falcons, as their 0-7 conference record means they did not qualify for the Southwest Preparatory Conference tournament.
Country Day will graduate 12 seniors this year, though standout sophomore Ayris Gratts-Cole will return.
The SPC tournament will take place this weekend in Fort Worth. Games will be hosted at Country Day and at Trinity Valley.