Boys basketball: South Grand Prairie rallies in the second half to defeat Hebron in Region I Final
FORT WORTH -- Depsite leading for 30-of-32 minutes and by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, Hebron's boys basketball team was unable to hold off South Grand Prairie in Saturday's UIL Class 5A Region I Final, coming up short against the Warriors, 35-33, at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
South Grand Prairie took its first lead since 2-0 in the opening minute with 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter when Virginia Tech signee Ben Emelogu converted 1-of-2 free throws to put the Warriors in front, 34-33. The squad subsequently made 1-of-2 on another trip for a two-point margin with 21 seconds left before a last-second 3-point attempt by Hebron senior and Cal Poly signee Ridge Shipley just missed.
It is the second consecutive year SGP has eliminated Hebron after bouncing the Hawks in the third round last season.
'I really don't know where it got away," said Mark Bishop, Hebron head coach. "We didn't score but 10 points in the second half. Their defense stiffened and we didn't get as many good looks. The ones we did get, we didn't make, so our percentage went way down and they were able to get some second-chance points and we didn't."
Jeff Hicks and Connor McLenaghan paced the Hawks with eight apiece, while Tyler Williams posted six and Ridge Shipley scored four. Emelogu finished with a game-high 13 points, while Mark Howell had 10 points for the Warriors. For the game, SGP shot 14-of-36 from the field.
"I thought we played really hard," Bishop said. "Our defense has been really solid all year and we held them to 35 points. It wasn't our defense."
Early in the third quarter, Chase Mortenson connected with Shipley for a layup that put Hebron in front, 27-19. However, the Hawks would score just six points the rest of the way, including two in the final frame. With each team valuing every possession, the squads combined for just eight points and nine field goal attempts in the fourth.
"We had a lead and we were trying to play with that a little bit," Bishop said. "We really only took one quick shot, but there were several things we could have done at the end to make something happen."
Hebron had difficulties getting inside, attempting more 3-pointers (5-of-17) than 2-pointers (9-of-16) for the game. The Hawks also only attempted one free throw (off an and-1 by Williams) after making 20-of-24 at the stripe in Friday's win against North Crowley.
"They were able to get a couple jumpers and they were able to get in the paint more," Bishop added. "They were getting inside and it caused us to have to help and that's where the second-chance points came from."
Offense wasn't an issue early for the Hawks though, as Hebron converted its first four field goal attempts with assists on each hoop. Connor McLenaghan, who hadn't attempted a 3-pointer in either of the past two games, knocked down a pair from distance in the first half, while Hicks stayed hot converting both of his attempts, each from beyond the arc.
Emelogu had five points in the half for the Warriors, while Howell had four. Hebron led by 11 early in the second quarter but went scoreless for more than six minutes as its lead was trimmed to four. But Chad Rehfuss entered off the bench and stroked a 3-pointer via Shipley to give the Hawks a 23-16 advantage at the break.
The momentum began to swing in the third and SGP drew even 30 seconds into the fourth when Howell made a steal and pulled up for a jumper to tie, 31-31.
"As the game unfolds, teams figured out what you're doing and they switched a lot on screens and stiffened up," Bishop said. "They got in the passing lanes to make it difficult and got a lot more ball pressure."
After committing just one turnover in the first quarter and three in the first half, the Hawks coughed it up seven times in the second half.
Hebron returns plenty of talent next season but will have to find a way to replace the backcourt play, scoring and leadership of Shipley, Hicks, Mortenson and company.
"It was an amazing year and amazing group of guys," Bishop said. "We had 34 wins in a row and coming in we didn't know what to expect. The seniors and underclassmen took it upon themselves to have the year they had. They were ranked top three in the state and ranked nationally and they elevated what we've been doing here at Hebron."