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Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament: Longview prevails in OT, lifts trophy

By Hayden Henry
Dec. 30, 2017 at 7:01 p.m.

 Longview's Phillip Washington makes a move to the basket, on Saturday December 30, 2017, during their game with Lufkin in the Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament in Lobo Coliseum. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Longview stood midcourt on the home floor with championship trophy in hand and talked about what's next.

That was the talking point all weekend with a next play, next game mentality for the Lobos.

In a game that featured five ties and 10 lead changes, Longview kept the championship trophy at home on Saturday with a 51-47, overtime win over Lufkin in the final of the Texas Bank and Trust/Longview Regional Leroy Romines Memorial Tournament.

"I think it means a lot to the kids and it's some success for them that may have come a little earlier than they expected," first-year Longview head coach Don Newton said. "I'm trying to keep them grounded and they are.

"It means a lot but it's more important that we get better at this stage. Everything we're prepping for is for the bigger situation, which is district, winning playoff games and laying the foundation of a championship-level program."

Longview capped the run through the Romines bracket at a perfect 5-0, including two overtime wins. Now, the Lobos will resume District 11-6A play, where they're off to a 1-0 start, on Tuesday.

Jason Bush garnered tournament MVP honors with a 22-point, six-rebound, three-assist, two-block and two-steal night. The senior Tyler Junior College signee averaged 17 points per game on the weekend, including 32 in an overtime win over Fort Worth Trimble Tech, who took down John Tyler in the third-place game.

"He's a player," Newton said. "He continues to get better and better and his approach and mentality has been a work in progress but he's been a sponge every day.

"He's continued to come up big for us in big situations."

Phillip Washington followed with 11 points and picked up all-tournament honors as well. Jaylin Brown finished with 15 rebounds to go with six points and a steal for the Lobos, who held the advantage on board, 41-37.

"Jaylin, he's a gritty ball hawk who still doesn't have his basketball legs that I respect the crud out of," Newton said. "If you listen, I'm steering him when we're facing man coverage and he just goes and does. He makes things happen."

Malik Henry added seven points, five rebounds and five blocks off the bench for the Lobos, who got points from seven different players, a trend that carried on throughout the weekend.

"We didn't shoot the ball as well as we've been shooting," Newton said. "I didn't really expect the tactics that they brought but we got our feet under us and made some shots. We didn't play great but we got contributions from a lot of guys."

Lufkin built its largest lead of the night, 43-39, with 1:19 to play in the third meeting on the court this season between the two teams.

Bush knocked down a three to pull the Lobos within one. On the ensuing possession, Bush punched the ball loose where Cameron Starling, who had just entered for the first time all game, came up with the steal. The junior then drained a free throw in what would be the game-tying point to force overtime between the two rivals.

"I was really proud of a guy who sat there all night, comes in, gets a steal and hits a free throw," Newton said of Starling. "That's what winning is. That means a lot to me and that's what is stick out to me at this time.

"His character to come in and contribute like that is big and we have those guys. The ones that we've been counting on, they continue to get better and better and I know we've got a long way to go but they're working hard."

Brown's second bucket of the game came off a dish from Washington down low to start the extra time. Bush followed with a putback and the Lobos jumped ahead by four, 45-41, with 27 seconds left.

Chris Thompson, who was named to the all-tournament team for Lufkin, hit back-to-back free throws and, after a steal from Torrence Agnew, JaLynn Polk made it a two-point game, 49-47, with seven seconds left. Bush then iced the championship win with a pair from the line. Thompson finished with 20 points for the Panthers and Kevonte Hurts, who was also named all-tournament, followed with nine.

After an 8-0 start from the Lobos, including threes from Bush and Washington, Lufkin roared back with a 7-0 run of its own, setting up a tight, back-and-forth affair the rest of the way.

A 6-0 run at the end of the third pulled Lufkin back into it with three ties coming the rest of the way at 37, 39, off a Brown bucket from Bush, and, lastly, at 43 on Starling's free throw.

Longview, who opened 11-6A action with a 65-56 win over defending champion Rockwall on Dec. 20, hits the road to North Mesquite on Tuesday. The Lobos then host John Tyler on Friday.

"It's been a great success," Newton said of the weekend. "I can't say enough about the booster club and the support we've had.

"I hope we can create some excitement. The crowds haven't been what I was hoping for at 15-3 but hopefully someone will come out, see these kids work hard, like what they see and come on back."

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)

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