On his Bach: Senior captain carries Anderson past Plano East, 52-50
HEWITT -- Austin Anderson's Rasmus Bach intercepted a Plano East pass just before the final buzzer sounded in Friday night's Region II Semifinal from Waco Midway.
It was an apropos ending.
Not only because Bach kept the Trojans (30-6) in the game for the first three quarters and scored the team's final point, but because it represented the Panthers '(29-6) ninth turnover of the fourth after combining for just seven in the first three quarters of a 52-50 defeat.
"It might have been a little bit of nerves," said Jeff Clarkson, East head coach, "but [Anderson] definitely ratcheted up the pressure too."
"We held East to 50 and when you look at the great size, athleticism and coaching they have, that says a lot about our defense," said Leal Anderson, Trojans head coach. "We ran man for most of the game, but then moved into a half-court trap in the fourth and that gave them some problems."
Also giving East problems were Bach (21 points, five rebounds) and John Gramlich (18 points, eight rebounds), who accounted for 75 percent of Anderson's points.
"Those are our captains, our senior leaders," Anderson said. "We have depended on those two all season and they did it again tonight."
Anderson, which hadn't led since 17-16, exchanged the edge with East at 42-41 and 43-42 in the fourth when the Trojans took a brief advantage off a putback from Adam Poole only to see the Panthers respond with a floater from senior Xavier Smith, who accounted for 10 points and five boards, with 2:05 remaining.
Anderson would score eight unanswered points in the next 97 seconds.
Gramlich gave the Trojans the lead for good at 45-43 with a deep 3-pointer and followed up with a pair of free throws at the 1:15 mark. Bach hit a pair of free throws and then Kevin Fisher, who had six points, connected on one from the charity stripe for a 50-43 Anderson lead with 28 seconds to go.
East attempted a feverish comeback as senior Marcus Mathieu accounted for six of his 11 points on a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which brought the Panthers within 51-50 with four seconds left.
East almost, and argued feverishly that it had, forced a jump ball on the ensuing inbound pass.
Instead, a foul was called with 0.7 seconds remaining.
That added to the level of frustration the Panthers and their fans experienced as the game went on.
"I think both coaches would agree this was not a well officiated game," Clarkson said. "We weren't getting some of the foul calls we thought we should have and I told the guys, 'don't worry about it, I'll go to bat for you,' but you could tell it was bothering them."
Anderson hit one free throw and then forced the ninth East turnover of the quarter for the 52-50 win.
"We were still getting to a lot of the spots we wanted to," Clarkson said. "We just weren't hitting shots we normally would and you have to credit [Anderson] for hitting some very big shots."
In the first half, it was Bach hitting the big shots for Anderson.
While East distributed the ball between seniors Pat Birt (11 points and seven rebounds), Jarvis Pugh (seven points, eight rebounds), Mathieu and Smith, Anderson depended on Bach. The differing strategies led to similar results as there were nine lead changes in the first half with the Panthers in front after the first quarter, 10-9, and at the break, 26-23.
East senior Sawyer Kipp, who posted seven points and three rebounds, scored the first five points of the third for either squad's biggest lead of the night at 31-23.
The Panthers nearly surpassed that spread at 41-34 midway through the fourth.
"Even then, I never stopped believing in our guys," Anderson said.
The Trojans got back in the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from Gramlich and Fisher to move within 41-40 as 3:21 remained on the clock. That was the spark of a 16-2 Anderson run that led to an eventual 52-50 victory.
The loss ended East's deepest playoff run in five years and denied the Panthers a potential return to the state tournament for the first time since 1993-94.
"I feel bad for these guys," Clarkson said. "I loved coming to work and coaching them. You build relationships and it's sad to see it end, especially for those seniors who know they aren't going to put on the Plano East jersey again."