Boys’ basketball: Alief Taylor upends Pearland in double-OT
MISSOURI CITY – A decisive dose of déjà vu proved disastrous for the Pearland boys’ basketball team Tuesday night at the expense of giant-killing Alief Taylor in a Class 6A regional quarterfinal matchup.
Lion junior guard Mike Adelabu leapt for an offensive rebound in the lane, and in one quick motion, put in the game-winning shot with two seconds left to give Taylor a 46-44 victory in a Class 6A double-overtime thriller at Hopson Fieldhouse.
Pearland managed to call a timeout with 1.2 seconds left, and was able to get a good look when a length-of-the-court pass fell into the hands of junior guard Javonne Lowery. However, Lowery’s 12-foot bank shot to force a third overtime just missed as time expired.
The win sends Taylor, the No. 3 seed from District 23-6A, into the Region III-6A tournament Friday against Sam Houston at the Berry Center. The winner of that game will take on the winner of Deer Park and Katy Tompkins on Saturday.
″(Pearland) was in a 1-3-1, and we were running ‘Domino’,” Taylor head coach Jeff Durnford said of the Lions’ final possession. “It’s extremely hard to run against that set, but sometimes you just put the ball in the hands of your best player (point guard Kavin Ezekwe).
“Kavin got into the paint, and it turned out like a replay of the first time we played Pearland.”
On Jan. 2, Adelabu grabbed an offensive rebound in almost the exact same spot in the lane and put in the game-winner while falling backward with three seconds left for a 53-52 Taylor triumph.
This time, Adebalu was again in the right spot at the right time and delivered the goods once more.
“Honestly, there was no real design to that last play,” Adebalu said. “I was just trying to get close to the basket.
“It was just like the first time. I caught, I shot it and it felt good. I knew it was going in.”
While Pearland’s first loss to Taylor (24-12) was gut-wrenching, this one was more painful.
The Oilers scored the game’s first six points, led 13-4 after one quarter, and built a 20-4 advantage with 6:04 left in the second period when Alex Greigg drained a 3-pointer. At that stage, the Oilers looked in complete control.
However, Pearland would score only six points the remainder of the half as Taylor cut the lead to 26-16 by halftime.
In the second half, Taylor continued to dominate, limiting Pearland to just 11 points total in the third and fourth quarters.
“We couldn’t get a rebound when we needed to,” Pearland head coach Steve Buckelew said. “They were just so dominant on the boards.
“I told our guys that Taylor won’t beat you on the first shot, but they’ll beat you on the second shot. I was hoping I wouldn’t be a prophet, but that’s what happened.”
With Taylor limiting Pearland to just three points in the third quarter, the Lions closed the gap to 29-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Taylor finally took its first lead of the game with 5:10 left in the final period when Joseph Ogunbanjo buried a 3-pointer.
Pearland led 35-33 with four minutes left on a Lowery dunk, but Ogunbanjo scored a pair of field goals for a 37-35 Lion edge, and Oiler Javarius Washingon made a layup as regulation ended at 37-37.
In the first overtime, Oiler Ovidio Perez sank two free throws for a 39-37 cushion, but Ogunbanjo responded with a trey for a 40-39 Taylor lead with 2:10 left.
Lowery answered for Pearland with a 3-pointer from the corner for a 42-40 Oiler cushion with 1:15 left. Ezekwe responded with a basket with eight seconds left to make it 42-42, and the teams went into the second OT when Pearland guard Washington’s shot at the buzzer was an air-ball.
In the second OT, Taylor’s Dana Barnes scored at the 3:02 mark, and the only other scoring were two free throws by Perez with 22 seconds left prior to Adelabu’s game-winning follow shot.
“When it was 20-4, we weren’t into the speed of the game, and our intensity level was down,” Durnford said. “Steve always has his guys very well prepared, and they ran their offense so well early.
“When you get down 16 to Pearland, it’s not looking good for us. It’s certainly not something you want to do too many times.
“Our team is not great offensively, but we’ve been really good, defensively. We held Atascocita to 13 points in a half, and we held a really good Pearland team to 11. This was just a great win.”
A turning point or key play is something Durnford second he couldn’t determine.
“In a game like this, there are so many key plays. I don’t know what it would be,” the Taylor head coach said. “I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a shame somebody had to lose. It was just a great game. I’ve been coaching against Steve for 25 years, and they just play so hard every time.
“We finally got their lead down to where it was manageable and then somehow figured out a way to win.”
Buckelew was disappointed in the loss, but enjoyed his team’s playoff run, which happened despite losing four starters to graduation.
“Hats off to Taylor,” he said. “It was two great defensive teams out there. Their length was just too good. They constantly crash the boards, and they swat at everything.
“You hold one of them off, and another rises above the rim. But I’m proud of our guys. We started out 2-4 and then became one of the better teams in the Houston area. My guys gave a great effort every time out.”