Continuing their red-hot roll on the hardwood, the Nacogdoches Dragons cruised to an easy 54-25 win over the Pine Tree Pirates here Friday at the Pirate Center, maintaining their perch atop the District 16-5A standings.
Pine Tree, meanwhile, saw its playoff aspirations take a huge hit. The Pirates, while not eliminated from postseason contention, certainly find themselves in dire straits.
Super-slick point guard Deonte Jackson was the catalyst for Nacogdoches with a game-high 21 points, five steals and a half-dozen assists. Jackson directed a Dragon offense that shot near-flawless from the floor.
About the only life Pine Tree exhibited came late in the first quarter. After quickly falling behind 7-0, the Pirates rallied with an 8-0 run of their own as Daryus Gray scored on a drive to the hole and Kenny Bradshaw followed with back-to-back treys.
Bradshaw’s second trifecta actually gave Pine Tree an 8-7 lead with two minutes left in the opening frame. Jackson, ever the spoiler, went end-to-end with a buzzer beating layup as Nac regained the lead 9-8 going to the second period.
The Pirates (12-14, 2-5) would not be a threat the rest of the way. Pine Tree misfired on all eight field goal attempts in the second and scored a goose egg. The Dragons (21-8, 6-1) sizzled from the field and hit four of their six shots to take a 19-8 halftime lead.
Pine Tree’s best effort at a bucket before the break came when Gray stole a pass near half court but was unable to convert the layup as the horn went off for the half.
Bradshaw ended what was a 10:30 scoreless drought for the Bucs when he canned his third 3-pointer at 7:30 of the third frame. The Dragons closed the quarter with a flurry making five straight buckets.
AJ Johnson was the benefactor with consecutive layups as the last came on an errant throwaway by Pine Tree. Jackson capped the quarter with a nifty running jumper in the lane as Nac grew its lead to 39-17.
Malaeka Wilson’s 3-point effort from deep baseline caromed off the mark as the Pine Tree Lady Pirates dropped a heartbreaking 29-26 to the Nacogdoches Lady Dragons in preliminary action.
Lauren Edwards led a balanced scoring attack for Nacogdoches with eight points that included critical baskets down the stretch. Pine Tree actually led 19-18 heading to the fourth quarter after free throws from Wilson and Keasia Woolridge.
The third period saw five lead changes and a couple ties. Pine Tree’s McKenzie Kirk, who finished with a game-high 10 points and nine boards, kept things interesting with a steal and layup at 0:07 of regulation.
Nac was attempting to drain the clock, however, Pine Tree came up with a defensive stand and Wilson got a good look at the close but the ball simply didn’t fall.
Both Pine Tree teams are home Tuesday against John Tyler.