The Bartlett Boys survived a game that went down to the wire against Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 3, to remain undefeated in District 15 4A play.
The Panthers (12-4, 4-0) squeaked out a 54-52 win at home when Mustang senior guard Kameron Clark missed a shot from the top of the key as time expired that would have won the game for Houston.
Bartlett could have carried a larger lead into the final possession, but two Panthers missed free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining that would have padded that lead.
It was a close game throughout after Bartlett closed the gap when Houston jumped out to a big, 14-2 lead to start the game. The score was 17-14 Houston at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers were led by Javar Daniel, who had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots.
“We played well enough to win,” Head Coach Dion Real said after the game. “We could play the victim and say, ‘Man, everyone is giving us their best game,’ or we could say we gotta get better and get ready.
“I don’t know what we’re waiting for to give somebody else our best game, so it’s disappointing, but that’s the game of basketball. Hopefully we can learn from it and get better.”
The Panthers missed their share of shots inside throughout the contest and were not very good from the free throw line, two aspects of the game that could have made the victory a little more comfortable.
Leading 31-26 at halftime, the Panthers relinquished the lead in the third quarter and Houston was on top, 43-41, at the end of three periods.
Trailing by 4 with about 6 minutes left in the game, Bartlett got a couple of quick turnovers and scored 6 straight, two of those baskets by senior Dajuan Montague on breakaways, giving Bartlett the lead again. Montague finished with 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 11 points, the only other Panther to score in double figures.
The Mustangs (9-7, 1-2) were led by Brock Vice and Mavrick Miller, who had 15 and 14 points, respectively.
After Vice scored to make it 54-52 Bartlett with 1:29 remaining, Panthers guard Devin Crockett was burning some clock and got fouled, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Mustangs got the rebound and then Miller was called for a moving screen, fouling out of the game with 19.2 seconds left.
On Bartlett’s next possession, Christian Alston was fouled and got two free throws, but missed them both, giving Houston the ball with 9.7 seconds on the clock.
That’s when the Mustangs’ Clark came down and missed a contested shot from the top of the key as time ran out.
“You miss a bunch of layups and you don’t shoot very well from the free-throw line, and you still win the game,” Real said. “It shows you how talented we really are. We’ve just got to put it all together.”