MINERAL WELLS —
By TONY EIERDAM
LAKE WORTH – For a team to find its identity, it has to do something extraordinary in a tough game situation to establish itself.
The Mineral Wells Rams may have found their identity as a tough, never-say-die squad here Friday night in a key District 6-3A contest.
Down 11-0 almost four minutes into the game and playing in front of a surly, loud crowd of Lake Worth students, the Rams overcame the deficit late in the first and took a lead it would not relinquish in the second quarter on its way to a 68-54 win that keeps the Rams in third place with a 3-2 district mark.
Lake Worth, which was looking to tie the Rams for third place, drops to 1-4. The top three teams in the district advance to the Class 3A playoffs.
Rams senior leader A.J. Williams, who played a gritty game underneath and finished with seven important rebounds and nine points, said the team never got down on itself and kept hustling when things were not going its way early in the contest.
“I had to tell my team to keep it together,” Williams said. “We are a team for a reason, and when we play like a team and keep pushing we can do anything.
“We are one of the best teams around if we play like a team. We didn’t look at the scoreboard, we just went after it and did the job. We got it done, and this win was big. We needed the win, we got it, and now we will focus on our next game.”
Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said the team did not panic when it got down early.
“I panicked, but the kids didn’t panic,” Pappas said. “When we lost DaShawn (Hicks, who received a technical foul ejection) I went into panic mode.” Hicks was ejected as officials claimed he intentionally threw the ball at a Lake Worth player. Hicks had just been taken down by a Lake Worth player who appeared to have hit him in the head. Hicks was ejected on his reaction to the play. Officials apparently did not see what started the altercation.
“The kids stepped it up.” Pappas continued. “Nick Wendt came in for DaShawn and played big for us, and Ty Ashley (who led the team with eight rebounds) did a great job. A.J. played very well, and (sophomore point guard Biren (Clardy) and (recent varsity addition) Roscoe (Rascellis Williams) also played well. It was a total team effort.
“Just to win this game on the road under the circumstances we faced was remarkable.
“Anytime you can win on the road in tis district is a big win. We didn’t want to lose this game and be tied for third place, and it is good to get some cushion on Lake Worth.
“We need to take care of business next week with two home games (against Diamond Hill on Tuesday and Springtown on Friday) and we feel like we can win them both if we play hard and play well.
“But right now, I couldn’t be happier to get out of here with a win.”
The comeback began on a three-pointer form the right perimeter by Hicks. After a Lake Worth turnover, Clardy drove the lane, scored on a layup and was fouled. He hit the charity shot to cut the Bullfrogs’ lead to 11-6.
Hicks stayed hot and drained another trey and scored on a lightning-fast baseline drive to cut the lead to 13-11.
Lake Worth took a 15-12 lead before A.J. Williams muscled his way in the lane and scored on a put back to cut the Bullfrogs’ precarious lead to 15-14.
Fittingly, the hot Hicks gave the Rams their first lead of the contest. Lake Worth could not stop another drive and Hicks was fouled going strong to the hoop. He connected on both free throws to give MWHS a 16-15 lead which took away the hosts’ momentum.
However, an altercation occurred in the Rams’ offensive end and MWHS was forced to play without Hicks for most of the second quarter and all of the second half.
The Rams, however, had momentum, and this time turned to senior Ricky Scott. Scott caught fire early in the second period, converting a three-point play after being fouled scoring on a layup and hitting the charity shot, then the 6-3 post showed his range by connecting on consecutive three-pointers to increase the Rams’ advantage to 25-18.
Lake Worth would never regain the lead, and the Rams went into the locker room at halftime with a 35-30 lead.
Lake Worth never could get to within five points for the rest of the game.
The Rams, with the help of Ashley on the boards, two three-pointers from Wendt and another trey from Scott, scored 20 points in the final stanza to put the game away.
In sib-varsity action, the Rams junior varsity fell 52-51 to drop to 2-3, and the MWHS freshman team defeated Lake Worth, 39-26, to raise its district mark to 4-1.
MWHS 16 19 13 20 – 68
LWHS 17 13 12 12 – 54
MWHS – Ricky Scott 15, Biren Clardy 13, Nick Wendt 10, A.J. Williams 9, Ty Ashley 9, DaShawn Hicks 7, Rascellis Williams 4, Reece Tarver 1.