By Tony Adams
The Belton Tigers basketball team needed a win over the Waco Midway Panthers at Tiger Gym last Friday night to keep their slim hopes of a playoff berth alive.
They got the start that they wanted, sprinting out to an eight-point lead. But Midway turned on the jets, tied the game at the half and used a 21-12 third quarter to outgun the Tigers 57-42.
Belton is now 11-17 on the season and 1-8 in District 12-6A play. Midway improved to 6-4 and is in the thick of the district race, improving to 18-12 overall.
Jospeh Ward scored the first points of game for Midway 1:08 into the contest. Jackson McGowan answered with jumper in the paint and Jordan Ellis’ three-pointer sent the Tigers on an 12-4 run to give them a 14-6 lead. Dontori Lott, Kiron Griffin Jr. and Izaiah Jones contributed to the run before Midway cut the momentum with a three-pointer by Ty Sadler at the first quarter buzzer to reduce lead six going into the second quarter, 14-9.
Lott’s drive and a layup 22 seconds into the second quarter put the Tigers up by seven before the Panthers and Belton traded baskets to make the score 18-13. Ward hit a jumper and Xavier Armstead hit a three-pointer to tie the ball game at 18-18 with 2:15 remaining in the first half.
Both teams held the ball for prolonged amounts of time over the final two minutes, but the fruitless possessions kept the score 18-18 at the half.
Armstead hit a three-pointer on Midway’s first possession of the second half and it was answered by Carson Hammond’s 14-foot jumper. Tyrone Richardson hit 1-of-2 free throws and Hammond fed Jones in the paint for a layup to tie the game at 22-22. Armstead’s second three-pointer of the quarter triggered a 10-0 run over 2:11 and gave Midway a 32-22 lead. The Panthers and Tigers traded buckets and free throws over the final 3:21 of the quarter, giving Midway a 39-30 advantage going into the fourth period.
The Panthers extended the lead to 15 points before Belton went on a 10-3 run over a 1:21 span. McGowan, Ellis, Hammond and Austin Floyd all scored during duration. But the Tigers couldn’t keep the Panthers off the foul line, as Midway went 7-of-13 from the charity stripe in the final stanza and ended up winning the ballgame by 15 points.
Lott led the Tigers with eight points. Hammond and McGowan each netted six points, while Ellis, Griffin and Floyd each scored five points.
The start was a quick one, but Belton head coach David President felt the team didn’t keep a careful enough eye on the Panthers.
“It was a lack of focus and lack of energy on our part,” President said. “Our effort wasn’t were it needed to be and we came out and went through the motions. When you do that, these are the results. I expect our guys to come out and play better than they did and finish this thing off in a better mode. We have to get our focus back on track.”
The Tigers fell on the road in Harker Heights Tuesday night 74-47. Austin Floyd had 10 points for Belton.