MERIDIAN – After suffering a devastating loss at Hico last Friday, the Meridian boys basketball team went into the District 10-2A regular season facing a must-win situation against the playoff-bound Santo Wildcats. With their backs against the wall, the Yellowjackets rose to the occasion to knock off Santo, 40-37, Tuesday night.
Senior Demarius Parks led the Jackets with 17 points and seven rebounds while senior Matt Rosas tossed in 11 points and senior Zade Kendall added eight in the win.
Thanks to district runner-up DeLeon eliminating Hico, 56-29, Tuesday night, Meridian (2-6 in district, 10-20 overall) clinched a postseason berth and will face Seymour in a Class 2A Bi-District playoff game in Minerals Wells Monday at 6 p.m.
“First off, all glory to God. He’s been patient with us,” Meridian boys basketball head coach Carlos Johansson said. “Our boys executed the game plan and fought with every ounce they had.
“When you’re short on players and have to play the whole game, it’s extremely difficult to maintain extreme focus. I am proud that my boys played through exhaustion until the end.”
The Jackets carried a five-point lead into the fourth period, Meridian held off a late Santo rally to secure the win and a playoff spot. Junior Dylan Poole pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and grabbed five steals, Kendall finished with seven boards and four assists, and Rosas dished out three assists while collecting five steals.
In last Friday’s District 10-2A matchups, while Meridian lost 50-46 at Hico (1-7, 11-19), Goldthwaite (8-0, 21-10) wrapped up the district title with a convincing 50-33 victory over DeLeon (6-2, 17-15), while Santo (3-5, 11-19) drew the open date.
Against Hico, Parks turned in a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Rosas with 14 points, while Kendall contributed 13 points, eight boards and seven assists.
“Tough loss to Hico,” Johansson said. “I thought we played extremely well, both teams actually played really well. We held their best player to just 10 points, which was exactly what we wanted. But Hico’s surrounding players had a great night shooting from the three.
“At the end of the night, we had more boards and fewer turnovers, usually a recipe for a victory. But it just didn’t happen.”
Other Class 2A Bi-District matchups for District 10-2A qualifiers on Tuesday include DeLeon facing Windthorst at 5:30 p.m. in Mineral Wells, Santo taking on Electra at 6 p.m. in Graham, Goldthwaite tips off against Archer City at TBD in Weatherford.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS