“It’s a great moment for our seniors,” said coach David President. “We have to go out and start over. The job isn’t done, so concentration must be at an all-time high.
The usual suspects helped pave the way for the Sharks. Leading hitter Shawn Jones had 18 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks and was strong from the opening tip. Senior guard Camron Amboree had all of his 14 points in the second half, including eight in the crucial third quarter when Shadow Creek beat Bellaire, 23-12.
“Tuesday against Dickinson, we went flat (after halftime),” the chairman said. “So that was a point of attention going into the third tonight. Make sure we were focused and locked in and extend the runs. I’m proud of that effort.
Shadow Creek is one win away from its first appearance in the stateVYPE Media
The reserves were a boon in an impressive performance for the Sharks, who had 29 points off the bench.
Freshman winger Bryce Jackson got things started, who had 18 points on 4-for-6 3-point shooting and helped contain Bellaire star Jacolb Cole (16 points on 15 field-goal attempts) with his length and its athleticism.
Jackson had 10 of his points in the first half, including eight in the second quarter to help separate Shadow Creek for a 29-22 halftime lead.
“He’s not afraid of the moment,” the president said. “He’s a kid who is always locked into his job. Tonight he played big. He made big shots early, saw the ball go in and that gave him a lot of confidence.
Besides Johnson, fellow freshmen Chase Garcia (five points) and Mike Collins also contributed significantly off the bench.
“It makes us different because it means I can do the dirty work, the little things,” Jones said of the bench play. “The guys got together and did their thing, and I was able to take care of everything else.”
Sophomore forward Kaden Tate added nine points and eight rebounds for Shadow Creek, which shot 51% and forced 13 turnovers. Cole managed Bellaire. Freshman Noah Neumann added 10 points.
ATASCOCITY 61, CLEMENTS 54: Free throws were the name of the game in the other Region III-6A semifinal between Atascocita and Clements on Friday at the Berry Center.
The two teams combined to make 49 free throws and attempt 62, but it was the Eagles who made them count when it counted. Atascocita went 20 of 26 in the fourth quarter for a 61-54 victory.
The Eagles 33-6 are one win away from a return to the United States.
“I didn’t think we played our style of defense in the first half,” said Atascocita coach David Martinez. “In fact, they played stronger than us. I knew it was going to be competitive and we knew they were going to fight it out.
Clements (28-10) led 24-22 at the half. Of the 46 total points, 23 came from free throws.
But the second half was another story for Atascocita. The Eagles forced 10 turnovers and became the aggressor.
Defensively, they stepped up the pressure and put Clements out of action. It helped that Rangers star second-year goaltender Diving Ugochukwu fouled 31 seconds into the fourth quarter after missing chunks of the second and third quarters on foul.
“We played as a team,” Eagles senior guard Angel Johnson said. “We moved the ball, played together. We were tough. We communicated better and bounced the ball much better.
Johnson helped put away Clements in the fourth quarter, making 10 of 14 free throws. He scored a team-high 17 points, all from free throws.
“We work them into practice every day,” Johnson said. “We focus on training, so it’s easy to integrate them into the game.”
Atascocita is seeking his third trip to the state since 2016.