No more one-and-done for the Panthers.
For the first time since 2009, the Van Alstyne Panther basketball team has notched a playoff victory following an exciting 64-46 win over Tom Bean at Prosper on Feb. 18.
In a game where the long-range shots were not connecting, Van Alstyne stepped up its defensive pressure and got the offense rolling in the second half to win the Region 2 bi-district battle.
Leading 28-27 at the half, the Panthers scored 26 points in the third quarter with many of those points coming off of Tom Bean turnovers.
Senior Zach Davis had the post-game explanation.
“Coach [Best] made some adjustments but mostly it was just a better effort in the second half; we communicated better and knew we were going to make a run,” he said.
Davis, who had the Panthers’ only 3-pointer in the opening half, had another in the third quarter in the midst of a 15-4 run that virtually sealed the deal.
Just as vital to the outcome was the defensive presence that was causing the TomCats all sorts of problems.
“We did a good job of flying around out of our trap and we got a lot of points off of that pressure,” Van Alstyne coach Russell Best said.
One of the keys to that defensive effort was the play of sophomore guard Jared McMakin. This guy was all over the court causing havoc for the TomCats, making steals, getting deflections and disrupting the offense. He also contributed 13 points for the night.
The TomCats, third place finishers in District 11-2A, came into the game with a lot of confidence. Their senior guard, Logan LeDane, scored the first four points of the game, and a basket by Tanner Ellis gave Tom Bean an early 6-0 run.
The Panthers stormed back as Colin McCaskill was unstoppable in the paint, scoring six straight points to get Van Alstyne back in the game.
McCaskill left the game late in the first half with an apparent ankle injury and did not return, finishing with eight points and five rebounds.
The two teams were trading baskets for the remainder of the half and for the first three minutes of the third quarter.Tom Bean took a 37-36 lead on a LeDane 3-pointer, but the TomCats did not score again until Van Alstyne had pushed the lead to 10.
The latter part of the game was highlighted by the play of sophomore guard Isaiah Boling, particularly a sick pass he made to Bailey Thorpe in the third quarter. Driving to the iron, two Tom Bean defenders came with Boling, leaving Thorpe alone at the 3-point line. Boling flipped the ball behind his back to Thorpe who drained the three, making an already raucous #VAVAT crowd behind the goal go crazy.
With the victory, the Panthers advance to the area round where they will meet Ponder, the District 9-2A champions, for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Sanger High School.
For Zach Davis, it’s a chance to further extend his final high school season.
“At the start of the season I felt we could accomplish a lot and getting one more game guaranteed, it’s great,” he said.
For Best, he’s happy for his guys who have worked so hard to make it happen.
“I just feel blessed to coach em,” he said after the game.
Tom Bean 13 16 13 4 — 46
Van Alstyne 10 18 26 10 — 64
VA:Zach Davis 16, Jared McMakin 13, Isaiah Boling 12, Colin McCaskill 8, Harrison Awe 4, Jake Hillebrenner 4, Bailey Thorpe 3, Seth Caraway 2, Dalton Jones 2.