Hallsville has found a way to grab some close wins so far in district action.
That’s what it’s going to take in what is shaping up to be a tight race and that’s just what the Bobcats did Tuesday night.
With strong shooting at the line and a clutch finish from Benjamin Samples, Hallsville grabbed a fourth-quarter lead and held on for a 78-73 win over Pine Tree in District 15-5A action at the Pirate Center.
Hallsville (13-4) is off to a 3-0 start in 15-5A, joining state-ranked squads in Sulphur Springs and Mount Pleasant, who both entered Tuesday undefeated in district play. The Bobcats grabbed a five-point win over Marshall and took down Texas High on the road, 52-50.
The Pirates (3-4, 0-2) had the Bobcats rattled for a large part of the night, leading by 11 midway through the third quarter.
But, in an all-out game with plenty of fouls, the Bobcats went 21-of-24 from the free-throw line in the second half.
On top of that, Sample, the Bobcats’ leading scorer, came up clutch, dropping 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, including 7-of-7 from the stripe.
Pine Tree went up by a game-high 11-points with 4:33 left in the third quarter. Samples had four points in a 7-0 run from the Bobcats and a few more in a 13-4 run that spanned into the fourth.
A deep 3-pointer from Samples gave the Bobcats their first lead since early in the second quarter with 5:59 left. A steal and a bucket with 3:28 left from Samples put the Bobcats ahead, 67-61.
The Pirates, who had a balanced scoring night, had chances the rest of the way, including a triple from DJ Rockwell with 41 seconds left to make it a two-point game. But the Bobcats stayed solid at the line and escaped with a win.
Freshman Anthon McDermott followed with 13 points and five rebounds for the Bobcats. Luke Cheatham chipped in 10 points for the Bobcats, who show 22-of-50 overall with seven threes in 20 attempts.
Off the bench, Taylor Sheffield had nine points and Trenton Smith had seven points and six rebounds.
For Pine Tree, Daryus Gray led with 21 points and five rebounds. Rockwell followed with 13 points, four assists and two rebounds. Nate Adkins had 10 points and Dealyn Evans nine points and five rebounds.
Jonathon Fuller had seven points, three steals and two assists. Wade Fell finished with six points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jeremiah Blinks chipped in seven points, five rebounds and two assists for the Pirates, who show 20-of-42 overall — nearly 50 percent from both inside and out the arch.
The teams, who were both in the bonus and double bonus with plenty of time on the clock in both halves, combined for 82 free throw attempts. Hallsville went 6-of-14 in the first half and 21-of-24 in the second, including a 19-for-19 start. The Pirates finished 12-of-20 in the first and 15-of-24 in the second half.
Pine Tree had 13 turnovers, including a few costly ones down the stretch. Hallsville had 10 of its 11 in the first half.
After a 19-19 tie, the fifth so far with 5:10 left in the second quarter, Fuller sparked the Pirates with a dunk off of a steal. The Pirates built an eight-point lead, 34-26, heading into halftime. A putback and then an and-one from Gray made it an 11-point game for the Pirates.
Gray then had another three with 4:33 left to make it an 11-point game again but Samples and the Bobcats did what they’ve done so far in the district race: escape with a win.
Pine Tree visits Longview on Friday while Hallsville hosts Sulphur Springs.