Coming off a group of games that tested the blood pressure of every Sealy basketball fan that you can read here, the contest with Wharton didn’t help things out.
It was the first game of the new calendar year and it also turned out to be the first district game of the year for the Tigers, who were playing host to Wharton’s Tigers.
For a while to begin, the hosts were as gracious as could be, allowing Wharton to make itself feel at home by allowing easy buckets while Sealy’s Tigers couldn’t put the ball in the hole, according to head coach Ray Dabney.
“First half we played horrible defense, couldn’t make layups and we were 0-for-9 from three-point range,” Dabney noted. “And we couldn’t get a tip or a steal or a foul to go our way but we were only behind by four at the half.”
Behind those doors in between the two halves of play, the coach delivered what ended up being a monotonous speech (which you can again read more about on page eight) about playing from behind without worry.
At the tournament, Sealy had certainly been in worse situations and Dabney cited two instances where, “In both, we were down by at least 15 at one time in the game so the speech was, ‘You’ve been here before, you’ve done this,’” Dabney said. “And the guys fought back hard.”
They did that to the tune of ending the third quarter with a 39-36 lead thanks in part to a six-point spark from A.J. McGee which wound up being half of his point total on the afternoon.
The fourth and final quarter was an interesting one as Wharton just never went away and actually ended up with a seven-point lead with 1:47 to play thanks in part to a six-point run from Da’Braelyn Finex that made things 53-46.
Dabney used a timeout to rally the troops and Roberts came out and nailed a three which was followed by Ivan Bolden’s ninth and 10th points on the afternoon to cut the deficit to only two.
However, a pair of Wharton free-throws pulled the visiting Tigers ahead but only for a short while as a Terrel Brooks bucket made the score just 55-53.
Wharton went back to the free-throw line but committed a lane-violation which turned the ball back over to the hosts with just 12.2 showing on the clock.
Dabney took another timeout to gather his team and draw up one more play.
Without noticing, he drew up a play that would go for the win instead of the tie.
Noe Navarro carried the ball upcourt and paused at the top of the arc.
A pair of defenders swarmed on him but he found a wide-open Roberts in the corner ready to cock and shoot.
Roberts hauls in the pass, raises the ball only for the defender to jump off the ground at the same time.
No problem for him though, as the shot his nothing but net from the corner, making the score 56-55 with only seconds left on the clock.
The visiting Tigers take a timeout of their own to draw up a play but Finex was unable to even get a shot up, securing the first district win for Sealy.
When Roberts had possession of the ball in the corner he didn’t have much time for thought but still; “I was more open than I expected so I didn’t want to miss it,” he said. “I caught it and there was nobody there but that’s how we drew it up right before and it worked.”
Dabney confirmed that was indeed what he concocted on the whiteboard, noting, “I drew it up as a three-pointer but then I looked at the clock and realized we only needed two but shoot, let’s go.”
Roberts knew the game would be on him but he didn’t mind.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on me and wanted to see if it goes in or not,” he mentioned. “I was worried I was going to drop it, I kind of bobbled it at first but I eventually got the handle and it worked out.”
A win looks the same in the win-loss columns in the standings and as Roberts said, the next goal was to move to 2-0 in district, which you can also figure out what happened in this story.