CAPTION: The Marble Falls Mustangs hoist sophomore Garen Jones in celebration after he hit the game winner against Jarrell. Photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Marble Falls High School boys basketball team beat Jarrell 52-49 Jan. 27 in another breath-taking moment.
Trailing 49-46, the Cougars (14-11, 2-3) hit a 3-pointer to tie the contest with 4.2 seconds left, forcing the Mustangs (11-16, 3-2) to call a timeout.
Needing to go the length of the floor, the Mustangs chose a play that set up a guard on the 3-point line. But when the ball got to sophomore Garen Jones at midcourt, he saw two seconds remained on the clock. So he decided to let it rip.
One power bounce later, the ball hit the backboard and fell in for the improbable victory.
“I was supposed to get the ball and swing it to (junior guard Kody Smith),” he said. “I saw two seconds and let it fly. This win was very important. We needed another win.”
In celebration, the players crowded Jones, who hit a halfcourt shot in a game last season but it wasn’t a game winner, and picked him up in front of the student section at Max Copeland Gym.
“I wasn’t expecting to get hoisted up,” he said. “They’re my boys.”
Head coach Travis Crain said that when he looked, Smith wasn’t open for the pass. And in thinking back to the final huddle, the coach said the Mustangs’ demeanor was what fans want.
“I told them we were going to be OK, no matter what happened we’d be fine,” he said. “We had to get to work quickly to get everything set up, to give us a chance at it. ‘Pick your heads up and let’s go give ourselves a chance at the game.’ We went with that off the fly. Our guys are mentally tough enough to execute things in tough spots.”
The contest didn’t look like it would come down to a buzzer beater. The Mustangs built an 11-10 lead after the first period.
Marble Falls began the second quarter on a 7-0 run thanks to free throws by junior guard Jamie Castillo and a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Tidus Willie to give them a 30-19 lead at the intermission.
But a renewed Cougars squad took the court in the third stanza and went on a 15-0 run to take a 34-32 lead. Willie scored two free throws and then found Smith for a fastbreak bucket. Jones and senior forward Averick Adams each scored a free throw to give the Mustangs a 38-34 advantage headed to the fourth quarter.
The two teams exchanged buckets throughout the period. The Mustangs took a 43-41 lead with 3:13 left in the contest and picked up the defensive intensity. They went to their stall offense. Junior Davis Dreisbach went to the basket and scored for a 45-41 advantage with 1:43 left.
The Cougars added two free throws to trim the deficit, but Jones had a steal and lay-up for a 47-43 advantage with 1:24 remaining.
Jarrell hit a 3-pointer and Willie dropped in a free throw for a 48-46 advantage with 58.8 seconds left. A tie ball gave Jarrell possession, but the Cougars missed the shot. Smith made a free throw for a 49-46 lead with 14.8 seconds remaining to set up the theatrical finish.
Crain credited Jarrell’s players and coaches for showing their hearts in the second half.
“They are as resilient as we are,” he said. “They dictated us on the pick and roll.”
Willie led with 17 points followed by Jones’ 15, and Smith’s 11. The Mustangs connected on six 3-pointers with Jones and Smith hitting two each. Marble Falls also was 16 of 26 from the free throw line.
Jarrell made four 3-pointers and was 5 for 11 from the foul line.
Crain credited assistant coaches Clint Anderson, Chris McWilliams and Sonny Wilson for helping the Mustangs get two valuable wins in the closing seconds of district games that features plenty of parity.
“You go over situations, you practice certain plays,” Crain said. “We work a little bit of that all year long. You can never draw up every scenario that comes your way, but you can try. We were fortunate we had the ball last. You try to put it in their heads, this belief in each other. They are phenomenal. Every game is important, the margins are so slim.”
Marble Falls travels to Lampasas for a 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 tip-off. The subvarsity contests are canceled.
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