Odessa, TX – Riding a five-game win streak, Permian’s basketball team has advanced to the Class 6A Area Round of the state playoffs. After Tuesday’s convincing 66-48 win over El Paso Franklin, the Panthers are set for a rematch with Keller High School this Friday.
In last year’s playoff clash with the Indians, Mojo battled Keller to a 60-60 tie through the four quarters of regulation. The Panthers would preserve a 67-66 overtime victory on a blocked shot attempt at the buzzer.
Permian had watched Keller jump out to a quick 7-0 lead before Race Herr and Ben Saldivar ignited the charge for the Panthers. Mojo managed to cut the deficit to two points in the second quarter.
The second half produced eight lead changes before forcing the extra period. With under 10 seconds to play, the Indians advanced the ball to half-court for one last gasp. Driving into the paint, the shot was slapped away as Herr blocked the attempt to secure the 67-66 Permian win.
Friday’s anticipated slugfest in Clyde could see a similar scenario play out with only one team advancing. The winner will face either North Crowley or district and crosstown rival Odessa High in the Regional Quarterfinal next week.
The Panthers have had to deal with their fair share of adversity in 2023. Permian has lost some of its season-starting varsity players, and that has made several of the inexperienced Black Cats have to play big roles at a very young age. According to second-year Mojo head coach Steven Flores, “They are stepping up down the stretch and playing very hard on the defensive side. It’s made us better as a team, and we’re playing our best ball of the season right now… at the right time.”
When asked about Friday’s game, Flores says the Panthers are focused. “Our key to success will be limiting live ball turnovers, and of course our defense. We’ll have to be able to keep Keller in front of us and put pressure on them. They will be bigger than us, so blocking out and rebounding the ball will also be key. We can’t afford to give up a lot of offensive boards.”
The Indians (24-10) roster is filled with notable sized players and return forwards Brooks Bahr (6’4″ 190) and Steven Ramirez (6’5″ 190) from last year’s playoff team. The Panthers (23-12) will need to keep an extra eye on the explosive pair. Bahr averages just over 21 points a game, making 56 percent of his attempts. He also leads Keller in rebounds. Ramirez is a 52 percent shooter and is the team’s number two rebounder.
Guards Parker Hannah (6’0″ 160) and Rhett Schank (6’3″ 170) could factor into the mix for a team that has been averaging 71 points a game. Hannah has enjoyed making 80 percent of his free throws, while Schank accounts for knocking down 42 percent of the 3-point goals.
The tribe won the District 4-6A title and blasted Fort Worth Paschal 89-46 in their Bi-District game earlier this week. Keller has produced more points than Permian (2,430 to 2,176) this season, but the Indians have also given up more points to opponents (2,026 to 1,881).