CLIFTON – Facing a do-or-die situation to keep their playoff hopes alive in the District 17-3A race, the Clifton boys basketball team staged a dramatic 42-40 victory over the second place Maypearl Panthers Tuesday night at the Clifton High School gymnasium.
In addition to hitting the game-winning shot with eight seconds on the clock, senior TJ Ferch poured in a game-high 20 points, while junior Luis Rodriguez, along with sophomores Griffin Phillips and Jorge Rodriquez scored six points apiece in the win.
Phillips pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, followed by Luis Rodriguez with seven and Ferch with six. Senior Everett Sadler and Luis Rodriguez dished out four assists each while Ferch came away with a team-high four steals.
“The guys did a great job competing until the final buzzer,” Clifton boys basketball head coach Tom Daniel said. “Defensively, we only allowed five fourth quarter points and forced six turnovers in the final minute. Everybody was super excited to see TJ’s game-winning shot go in with eight seconds to go.”
Now, the Cubs (5-7 in district, 17-11 overall) must travel to Whitney to face the Wildcats (7-5, 11-13) in a showdown with significant postseason implications.
After Rio Vista upset the Cubs, 43-39, last Friday, Clifton trailed fourth place Keene (7-5, 13-11) by two games and Whitney by three with three remaining. Clifton still needs to win out while Whitney must drop its last two district matchups to force a tie for fourth place. But with a win over Whitney tonight, the Cubs would split the district series against the Wildcats and set up a chance to tie on the final day of the regular season.
With its convincing 65-13 victory over Waco Harmony School of Innovation Tuesday, Keene secured at least a tie with Clifton, and the Chargers own the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping Clifton in two district contests. But interestingly, the possibility remains for a four-way tie for third place and a three-way tie for fourth in district, so get ready for a wild finish.
In other District 17-3A action Tuesday night, district champion Grandview rolled to an impressive 70-43 victory over Whitney, while West remained in the postseason hunt with a 60-30 victory over Rio Vista.
Friday’s district matchups include Grandview (12-0, 20-12) hosting Waco Harmony School of Innovation (0-12, 0-15), Rio Vista (3-9, 9-19) traveling to Maypearl (8-4, 15-10) at 7:30 p.m., and West (6-6, 16-14) visiting Keene (7-5, 13-11).
Photos by DAVID HARDING