By TONY EIERDAM
In the Mineral Wells Rams first District 6-3A meeting against state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale, MWHS fought tooth and nail with the highly-ranked Wildcats and trailed by just four points during the third quarter.
Although Kennedale went on to win that game by 22 points, the Rams demonstrated that – at least for two and a half quarters– that they could play with a top team.
The Rams jumped on the Wildcats on Tuesday at the MWHS gym and led 19-17 after the first quarter as Kennedale realized that this would not be one of their typical 6-3A games.
But when Kennedale got behind, like all good teams they got better, and the ‘Cats went on a 26-9 run in the second period on their way to an 85-49 victory.
Six different players scored for the Rams in the first quarter, led by leading scorer Biren Clardy with seven.
“We were hitting our shots in the first half,” Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said. “It was as simple as that. We were also scoring in the paint, and we love that because we don’t get shots in the paint very often.
“But when Kennedale got behind they kicked it into a higher gear, and that is what they did from the beginning of the second quarter through the end of the game.
“They looked the No. 2 team in the state, and we didn’t look so hot in the second half.”
Pappas was pleased to see his team come out strong early on Tuesday after suffering a loss on Friday after leading by 17 at the half.
“We wanted to win this game,” Pappas said. “We felt like we could give them a better game than what we did, and our guys were up for it.
“It’s tough to win games in this district. A lot of people feel like it is one of the weaker districts, but we have the No. 2 team in Class 3A, and Springtown is not ranked but they are well coached and their team plays hard.
“We saw what Castleberry can do the last time we played them, and really, anybody can be beat on any given night.
“With two district games left we have to suck it up and win so we can try tie for second place.”
Springtown, currently in second place a game behind the rams, still has Kennedale left on its schedule.
Kennedale actually was the team that started strong as the Wildcats raced to a 13-5 lead, which included a crowd-awing dunk from post Ty Charles.
After a driving layup from Rams sophomore post Broderick Johnson, the Rams’ guard took over.
Clardy scored on a driving layup and Nick Wendt followed with a three-point bucket from the top of the key.
Meanwhile, Kennedale was missing shots and turning the ball over, and Jordan Duckett, called up from the junior varsity, took a pass from Clardy and converted on a layup to tie the game, 17-17.
After another missed shot by the visitors, Clardy raced down the middle of the lane and put up a layup to give the Rams a 19-17 lead and complete an 11-4 run.
Kennedale quickly took the lead for good early in the second period. The quick and athletic Wildcats began the quarter with a 12-2 run as Charles, post Aundre Jackson and guard Brandon Conwright combined for 10 of the 12 points.
Rams forward Rascellis Williams provided some brief offense with a pair of driving layups, but Charles brought the hosts and the home crowd back to reality with a slam dunk after a steal that extended the Kennedale lead to 35-25.
Sparked by the dunk, Kennedale went on a 10-3 run to end the period to take a 43-28 lead at the half.
Kennedale extended its lead to 49-30 early in the third quarter, but the Rams gathered themselves and fought back.
Williams scored on a twisting, driving layup, and after a KHS turnover, Duckett penetrated the lane and scored on a layup. The Rams completed a brief 6-0 run after a one-handed layup by Clardy.
Unruffled, Kennedale closed the third period on an 11-3 run – paced by eight points from Charles, including a three – to take a commanding 60-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
KHS 17 26 17 25 – 85
MWHS 19 9 11 10 – 49
MWHS – Biren Clardy 19, Rascellis Williams 8, Nick Wendt 5, Juvaree Sutton 3, Broderick Johnson 8, Jordan Duckett 6.