CAMERON — It was not an ideal situation, but Aaron Nuckles liked his chances.
In a battle of top-25 teams, No. 3 Oakwood used a late second-quarter surge to create a 20-point advantage. Lometa responded with a little run of its own to trim the deficit to 50-34 entering halftime.
While it was massive hole against a talented team, the Hornets’ head coach was optimistic at intermission.
“As crazy as it sounds, at halftime, we had them on the ropes,” Nuckles said. “We had them where we wanted them. The deficit was probably a little too much; we didn’t want it to be more than 11 points. … We thought we had them where we wanted them, but we hit a dry spot in the third, and they took off.”
The Panthers were never challenged in the second half,
outscoring No. 23 Lometa 44-22 en rout to a 94-56 victory in the bi-district round of the Class 1A, Division II playoffs.
Any momentum the Hornets carried into halftime quickly evaporated in the third quarter as they failed to score a point until Kyle Molter connected on a layup with 3:20 remaining in the period.
By then, however, the Panthers (24-4) held a dominating 65-36 lead that never shrank during the duration of the game.
Although Nuckles was content with his position at halftime, the Hornets lost control of the game midway through the second quarter.
After falling into a 17-6 hole to start the game, Lometa began storming back, cutting the gap to six points, 23-17, by the end of the first quarter. Then Molter opened the second quarter with a layup and Pedro De Luna followed with a 3-pointer to pull the Hornets within a point, 23-22.
Justus Alaniz sent Lometa’s fans into a frenzy by tying the score 24-24 with an offensive rebound and putback.
The tie was short-lived, though.
Approximately four minutes later, the Panthers were leading 49-29.
“We got good shots,” Nuckles said of the span. “Athletically speaking and coach-wise speaking, you could break it down and say their height gave us trouble, but I think it was just because we missed shots. They didn’t fall, for whatever reason, honestly, and we didn’t communicate very good on defense tonight.”
Ivan Jasso, Molter and De Luna shared team-high scoring honors for Lometa, finishing with 10 points apiece, while Adrian Rivera added eight points.
It was not enough to contend with Baylor-commit Damiyne Durham, who scored 32 points to go with four rebounds and three steals. Making matters worse for Lometa was a 28-point, 10-rebound double-double from Oakwood guard Jacquez Anderson.
The loss ends the Hornets’ season with a 20-7 overall record following an undefeated run to the District 28-1A, DII championship.
While the playoff loss put a damper on things, Nuckles mentioned plenty of positives from the season.
“We did things we’ve never done before,” he said. “We won 20 games, we were undefeated at home, undefeated in district, ranked in the top 25 all season, so we did things. We’re losing four incredible seniors, who will be hard to replace, but we’ve got a lot of youth that played a lot of the season. It is a step in the right direction.”