JUSTIN — Fort Worth Trimble Tech coach Wendell Ivory knew Denton was going to be a tough out and would force his team to stick with its game plan all the way to the final buzzer.
Led by Chasten King’s 19 points, the Bulldogs were able to forge a double-digit lead early in the second half and fend off the Broncos down the stretch to record a 61-46 area-round victory Friday at Justin Northwest.
“This time of year, everybody is fighting for their season,” Ivory said. “That’s a good ball club over there. We kind of stressed with the kids that they are a tough team; they are going to play hard for 32 minutes, so we have to be prepared for runs.”
Jordan Gales added 16 points — 11 in the second half — for the Bulldogs, with 6-foot-6 Spencer Franklin doing most of his damage down low on his way to 15 points.
King got the Bulldogs (25-7) started with the game’s first five points with a scoop layup and a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. Jordan Gales’ 3 from the left corner then gave Trimble Tech an 8-0 lead. Denton’s Greg Helt finally stopped the bleeding with his fading post move 2:50 into the quarter.
As he has done throughout the season, Michael Jackson helped Denton claw back with a three-point play off a dribble-drive bank shot to bring the Broncos within a point at 8-7.
The Bulldogs, ranked 23rd by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, then returned the Broncos’ 7-0 run with one of their own off strict defense that led to transition buckets for a 15-7 lead. Denton cut it to 15-11 in their final possession of the quarter off a Ryan Daniels’ slashing layup. Daniels finished with 12 points on the night.
After Adarian Harris’ offensive rebound and put back brought the Broncos to within two points, King helped himself to a baseline runner and a pull-up jumper in the lane to extend the lead to 19-13. Franklin finished out the half with four more points off a transition layup and turnaround bank shot to send the Bulldogs into halftime up 23-17.
“I thought we played extremely hard,” Denton coach Harold Jackson said. “They just made a few more plays than we did tonight. They came out and made some shots and forced us into some early turnovers. We missed some easy buckets and then it just got pretty one-sided. Then down the stretch, they made their free throws and we couldn’t continue to make shots.”
The Broncos couldn’t get their shooting game going in the first half as they were 0 of 9 from 3-point range in the first half on the way to 5 for 21 in the game. Conversely, the Bulldogs were efficient from the free-throw line, going 18 of 24 for the game with 17 scored from the line in the second half with Denton pressing to get back in the game.
Trimble Tech, the District 7-4A champs, extended its lead to double digits to start the second half as King’s wide-open jumper in the lane made it 27-17. Romeo Purvis’ baseline runner brought the Broncos back to single digits at 37-28, but Gales’ 3-pointer in the right corner off a quick transition pass restored the Bulldogs lead to 40-28.
Deamonte Hughes’ chase-down block neutralized a Trimble Tech transition opportunity that led to a Manny Patterson layup that opened the fourth quarter with the Broncos down 40-30.
With Denton pressing up court, Franklin took advantage of the hole in the defense for an easy layup to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game at 45-32.
“Franklin is a sophomore and he made a couple of big plays for us down the stretch,” Ivory said. “We wanted to exploit his size over some of the Denton players, but in the first half, it wasn’t working because it was more of speed thing than size. But, in the second half, we just tried to squeeze like an anaconda; just don’t stop, and he got loose a few times.”
Not going down without a fight, the Broncos’ defense was able to force a few turnovers that led to a Michael Jackson 3-pointer before transition layup brought Denton back to within single digits again at 45-37.
“My kids played hard and we had a tremendous season,” Harold Jackson said. “To be honest, I think we exceeded everybody’s expectations and I told the kids that. They got themselves in a position to be extremely successful, a lot more than a lot of people thought they would, and they have nothing to hang their heads on.”
The Bulldogs countered by exploiting the Broncos’ desperate defense before eventually getting into the bonus in the second half of the fourth quarter to finish out the victory.
The Broncos finished the season 17-16 and will lose eight seniors after this season.
“We jelled extremely well, and we came together during district and we put some wins together,” Harold Jackson said. “A lot of them have been with me for four years. They’re not just basketball players, they’re tremendous people and they’re great kids.”
Fort Worth Trimble Tech 61, Denton 46
Denton 11 6 11 18 — 46
Trimble Tech 15 8 17 21 — 61
Denton — Michael Jackson 18, Ryan Daniels 12, Deamonte Hughes 6, Manny Patterson 4, Adarian Harris 2, Greg Helt 2, Romeo Purvis 2.
Trimble Tech — Chasten King 19, Jordan Gales 16, Spencer Franklin 15, Rayvyon Parks 10, Treyon Randolph 1.