CAPTION: Marble Falls sophomore forward Garen Jones and the Mustangs found a way to leave Burnet with a valuable win in District 24-4A play. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
The Marble Falls High School boys basketball team came back to beat Burnet 49-48 Jan. 24.
The outcome means both teams are 2-2 in District 24-4A play where both brought out the best in each other.
“It came back to our faith in the guys on the floor and what we felt like they could do,” Mustangs head coach Travis Crain said. “You don’t hang Burnet up, but we got them to do it enough to open a window for us.”
The Mustangs trailed 48-46 but had possession of the ball with 55 seconds left in regulation. Marble Falls junior guard Kody Smith drove to the hoop for the game-tying field goal but was blocked by Burnet junior guard Reese Syphrett.
A mad scramble for the ball ensued with players in both uniforms diving to the floor. Somehow, the Mustangs regained possession and found sophomore guard and captain Tidus Willie.
Willie drove to the basket, was fouled and still scored the lay-up. Crain called a timeout before Willie hit what turned out to be the game-winning free throw.
“I felt confident going to the line,” he said as a trace of blood was visible on his teeth. “I usually shoot a lot (in practice).”
Marble Falls immediately returned to its full-court press to force the Bulldogs to inbound the ball and go the length of the floor while seconds ticked away. Burnet took two shots before the horn sounded to end the contest, though the gym was so loud the fans couldn’t hear it.
“They couldn’t get a clean look, and we were aware of the time,” Crain said.
Marble Falls came back from a double-digit deficit and didn’t take its first lead until the final 4 minutes and 37 seconds in the contest. That’s when Willie drove to the basket. But instead of taking the lay-up, he passed to junior guard Kody Smith in the left corner, who buried the 3-pointer to send the Marble Falls faithful into a frenzy.
Burnet junior forward Garner Krause tied the game by hitting two free throws. The Bulldogs retook the lead on a throw-in bucket 46-44 with 3:21 left.
Neither team scored for the next couple of minutes until Marble Falls junior guard Jamie Castillo hit an off-balance shot in the paint near the free throw line to tie the match-up at 46-46 with 1:36 remaining.
Burnet answered by spreading the floor and running its motion offense that forced the Mustangs to go one-on-one on defense. Syphrett found junior guard Andre Miller on a backdoor cut for a lay-up and a 48-46 lead with a minute left. That set up Willie’s dramatic 3-point play.
Before the Mustangs could comeback and win, they first had to dig themselves out of a 17-0 hole because the Bulldogs were focused and energized for this contest. Burnet scored on 3-point bombs, backdoor cuts and even by picking up loose balls for lay-ups. Burnet led 17-3 after the first period and 24-12 at the intermission.
“At the half, honestly, I tried to get us settled and focused on the task at hand,” Crain said. “Burnet came out incredible. Credit to (head coach Roy) Kiser and those kids. He had them ready to go. We came out rattled and unsure. I told our players, ‘The first half wasn’t us. Let’s get back to being us.’ And then you chip away at it.”
The chipping began in earnest in the final 2:11 of the third period. Marble Falls trailed by nine when junior guard Davis Dreisbach drove for a lay-up and added a free throw to trim the deficit to 32-29 with 1:41 left. Willie’s lay-up made it a 32-31 contest with under a minute remaining.
Miller answered with a lay-up of his own to give Burnet a 34-31 advantage. The Mustangs missed the game-tying 3-pointer on their final possession that allowed the Bulldogs to get to their end of the court and extend the lead thanks to two Krause free throws for a 36-31 advantage headed to the final stanza.
Both teams began the fourth period by answering each other’s baskets to set up the dramatic final minutes.
“Credit to coach Kiser,” Crain said. “His teams are so good. Every district game is going to feel like a playoff game for every team in the district. Errors are slim because of how evenly matched this district is. I’m proud to be apart of this district. It’s going to be an all-out fight to the end.”
Willie summed up the importance of winning at The Doghouse.
“It’s our rival and it’s one of the better teams in our district,” he said.
Marble Falls will welcome Jarrell, while Burnets hosts Lampasas Friday, Jan. 27. The junior varsities plays at 5 p.m., the freshmen at 6:30 p.m. and the varsity at 8 p.m.
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