The Kennedale Wildcats are now 16-3 and near the midpoint of the regular season after winning three and losing one in the Bridgeport Holiday Tournament this past week.
Ironically, just like their last tournament played earlier in December the Wildcats finished 3-1. In both tournaments, the one game that they lost was decided in the final seconds of the game and with a three-pointer scored by the winning team. In this tournament, the Cats had their own win as time ran out.
Bridgeport tournament action …
It was a split decision on Tuesday in the opening rounds of the Bridgeport Tournament. The Wildcats defeated 3A Boyd (10-5) by a score of 69-52 and lost to 3A Nocona (12-9) in overtime and in the closing seconds 62-59. The following day on Wednesday, it was a sweep by the Cats as they polished off 4A Springtown (6-8) 57-32 and survived 4A Aubrey (7-5) by a score of 48-46.
Playing in a tournament with few standout teams and one that is peppered with smaller division teams has its risk. Kennedale came into the tournament with the best record and became a marked team, one to use as a measuring stick.
Nocona Indians vs Kennedale (L) …
The Wildcats started out the tournament with a loss against 3A Nocona. The Nocona Indians came into the tournament with just a just average win-loss record of 10-9. However, they, like Kennedale, would finish the tournament 3-1.
Whether or not it was a misleading record, the hot-shooting first half by the Indians, or a seemingly sleepwalking effort by the Cats in early play, the Cats fell behind quickly. It wasn’t until 5 minutes into the 3rd quarter that Kennedale took their first lead of the game and it was finally a game.
Earlier in the first half, “threes” were the weapon of choice and in that game when you are hot your hot, and when you are not, forget it. Nocona was on fire and Kennedale wasn’t. Nocona liked shooting from the backyard and they were deadly. Three-pointers rained down on the defenseless Cats early. Kennedale fell into the trap of trying to do Nocona one better. It wasn’t until they decided to take it to the basket that the Cats started to make a difference in the game. The first half ended with Nocona in charge 28-20.
Building on the strength of the inside game, Kennedale started to chisel away at the Indians’ lead. After the Wildcats took their first lead of the game 32-31 in Q3, the lead would change over the next several minutes, but Nocona was one point up, 38-37, at the end of three. Kennedale, playing their game, outscored Nocona 17-10 in the 3rd thus setting up a 4th that ended regulation play tied 49-49.
Overtime … The Cats struck first in the 4-minute overtime period with a two (Jordan Miller) for a 51-49 score. Nocona responded to tie. The Cats, on a foul against Miller, added a point to go up by one, 52-51 with 2:32 left in overtime. Nocona then went on a run – with two points off a foul by the Cats, followed by a 3 and then another two after a travel call on the Cats. This put the Indians in control of the game at 58-52 with just over a minute left. Kennedale in a 6-point hole surprised Nocona with their own run – hitting a two (Austin Pickett), followed by a three-pointer (Breylen Harris), and then a free throw (Breylen Harris), tied the game at 59 with 3.5 seconds left. (Nocona had scored a point on a free throw and went 0-2 on another foul shot opportunity during the Kennedale’s run). Then came the killer. Nocona with a desperate turnaround, fallings sideways sling at the basket near the halfcourt corner made the “Hail Mary” shot for the game-winner and the final score 62-59.
For the game, Austin Pickett led for the Wildcats with 24. Others scoring in double figures were Landon Brooks 23, Tyler Choice 19, Breylen Harris 15, and Jordan Miller with 13.
Boyd Yellowjackets vs Kennedale (W) …
The second game of the day was against the 3A Boyd Yellowjackets. The Jackets came in with an equally impressive record of 10-3. Somewhat unexpectedly, the game was dominated by the Wildcats who showcased a 17-point win. It was almost routine with Boyd offering little challenge.
Kennedale outscored the Yellowjackets in every quarter except the fourth and by that time it was too late for Boyd. For the game, Wildcats’ Jordan Miller and Landon Brooks led with 12 points each. Boyd was led by the hot hand of Aidan Lemasters who scored 31 points. Kennedale’s Christion Whitaker besides having 8 points, contributed to the win with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 deflections, and 2 steals.
Springtown Pojos vs Kennedale (W) …
On Wednesday, as with Boyd, Kennedale kept the game under control with the 4A Springtown Pojos. The Cats led the Pojos 11-5 after the first period, 31 to 18 at the half, 46 to 26 after three, and won 57-32. For the Wildcats, Tyler Choice hit for 14 points and Landon Brooks with 11 points. The rest of the points were spread out between the other Wildcats.
Aubrey Chaparrals vs Kennedale (W) …
The fourth game for Kennedale, also played on Wednesday was against 4A Aubrey (8-6). This game was a toss-up even to the very last second of the game. The Wildcats let by one at the end of the first period 17-16 after Aubrey had led in the quarter several times. At halftime, it was a three-point lead, 27-24 in favor of the Cats. The lead changed several times during Q2. Aubrey knotted the game after three quarters at 36, erasing a 5-point lead by the Cats.
And the battle continued into the fourth. The Chaps were was able to tie the game several times during the quarter but could never get the lead. With just over 2 minutes left in regulation, Aubrey tied the game once again at 44. At the 1:17 mark, Kennedale’s Christion Whitaker regain the lead with a slam after a feed by Austin Pickett. Aubrey responded with a drive to the bucket to forge another tie with barely 12 seconds left at 46-46.
It was then Kennedale’s turn to win the close one
Driving the length of the court and weaving through the crowd underneath the basket, Austin Pickett found a hole and went up to deliver the winning goal for the Cats. There was no time remaining on the clock. Kennedale could go home with the last-second win 48-46.
In scoring, the Cats were led by Tyler Choice with 15 followed by Austin Pickett with 13.
Player Stats for the tournament …
Total points – Austin Picket with 42 followed by Landon Brooks with 41, Tyler Choice 35, Jordan Miller 26, Breylen Harris 24, Christion Whitaker 18, Hunter Limbaugh 16, Rishaun Gibson 12, Tristan Lewis 9, Jonathan Venegas 5, Dallas Dryden 3.
Other player stats – J. Miller led in total rebounds with 24 followed by C. Whitaker with 20. T. Choice led in assists with 10 followed by J. Miller and A. Pickett each with 7. A. Pickett had the most steals with 6 followed closely by B. Harris and T. Choice with 5 each and J. Miller and C. Whitaker who stole 4 each. The block master was R. Gipson with 5 which he combined with 4 deflections. The team leader in deflections over the 4-game period was T. Choice with 9 followed by B. Harris and C. Whitaker with 6 each.
Next up …
After four days of rest, the Cats are back in action traveling to play 4A Mabank (8-6) on Monday, January 3rd. Game time is set for 4:15 pm.
Mabank is currently on a three-game win streak. The only common opponent according to MaxPreps is Ferris, in which Kennedale defeated 62-47 on December 14, and Mabank defeated 47-44 on November 23.