ABILENE, TX – Defense wins championships, and that became evident with Tuesday’s state Regional Quarterfinal. Arlington Martin grabbed an early lead, but Permian endured to prevail 44-43 at Abilene High’s Eagle Gym. The Mojo Machine continues its quest toward the State Champion title.
Shy Stephens-Deary racked up a game-high 22 points, but it was the Permian defense that denied Martin from regaining a lead the final 15.9 seconds of the game. With a one-point lead, J.J. Vizcaino and Keyonta Johnson prevented the Warriors from getting off a shot off before time expired. Johnson and Nakavieon White had crashed the defensive boards most of the game. White also scored 10 points and had five assists.
“This game was an old-fashioned tough, hard-nosed, grind it out until the end battle.”, according to head coach Tim Thomas. “It could have gone either way, but the team bared down and got some crucial stops late. This was a game in which our offense wasn’t clicking but ‘defense travels’, and I told the team if they hold them to under 23 points in the second have we would win. I’m really proud of them and their ‘No Quit’ effort tonight!”.
The Warriors scored the game’s first seven points before Stephens-Deary got the first Permian bucket midway in the first quarter. Another basket by Stephens-Deary and free throws by White and Johnson resulted in the Panthers trailing 11-7 after one quarter. Each squad added another 12 points to their tally in the second frame for a 23-19 Martin lead at halftime.
To turn the momentum in the second half, Stephens-Deary drained a three-ball to narrow the deficit to a single point to start the third stanza. Defense reigned supreme for most of the quarter. Permian was able to grab its first lead late in the quarter when Vizcaino delivered a three-pointer. Martin came up with a three of its own, but White deadlocked the game at 28-28 to end the period.
The Panthers managed to extend their lead to five points midway into the fourth quarter, but it wouldn’t last long. The Warriors answered with a 6-0 run to make it a 40-39 ballgame with just over two minutes left in regulation. White sent a three-pointer through the cylinder, but Martin regained the lead again as the battle continued into the last minute of play. Johnson made a clutch basket to give Permian the final lead that would hold up for the 44-43 win.
The Mojo Machine will head to Fort Worth on Friday to play Richardson in the Regional Semifinal. This will be the the third consecutive season for the Panthers to reach this round of the playoffs. The game will be hosted at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. Tip-off will be at 8:00 p.m.
Guinn 4 3-4 14, Greenleaf 3 2-2 8, Talton 2 1-2 6
Stephens-Deary 8 4-4 22, White 2 5-6 10, Vizcaino 3 0-0 7
Martin – 5 (Guinn 3, Rodgers 1, Talton 1)
Permian – 4 (Stephens-Deary 2, White 1, Vizcaino 1)
Martin – 6 of 14 (43%) | Permian – 10 of 13 (77%)
Martin – 10 | Permian – 15
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