PROSPER — In an arena-like setting with seating surrounding the basketball court and a giant video scoreboard hanging over the gym at Prosper, the grandiose scene couldn’t have been more fitting for a third and final matchup between District 4-4A rivals Little Elm and Ryan on Tuesday night.
Little Elm, the district champions and the No. 13 team in Class 4A, came away victorious in the first two matchups this season. But on Tuesday, the sweat-drenched head referee extended his arms to signal the end of the game, sending Ryan’s fans into jubilation and silencing Little Elm’s supporters.
Trey Mohair carried the Raiders, scoring a game-high 28 points in a 61-59 victory over the Lobos in the Class 4A Region II quarterfinals. Gilbert Jackson scored 11 points and Trey Cook added eight points in the victory.
With the win, Ryan advances to face Fort Worth Trimble Tech in the regional semifinals Friday in Snyder. Only 16 teams remain in the 4A playoffs.
“He’s been a kid that I’ve had the opportunity and fortunate enough to be around for the last four years,” Ryan head coach Bryce Overstreet said of Mohair. “He wasn’t going to let us lose tonight.
“I had 100 percent faith that he would get it done.”
Ryan advances to the regional tournament for the second straight season. Since 2009, the Raiders are 8-3 in the playoffs, including three wins this postseason.
Little Elm was led by Devante Pullum’s 20 points and 18 from Anthony Egwu.All four of Mohair’s fourth-quarter points came after Pullum knocked down a 3-pointer at the top of the arc to tie the game at 57 with less than two minutes remaining.
Mohair responded on the following possession by driving to the basket, drawing a foul and hitting a right-handed layup that sent Ryan’s crowd into a raucous uproar.
In the Raiders’ second loss to the Lobos this season — which came on Ryan’s senior night — Mohair missed crucial free throws late in the game that allowed Little Elm to erase a seven-point fourth quarter lead and steal a road victory. This time, Mohair missed one of his two free throws in the fourth quarter. But his go-ahead basket halted Little Elm’s mounting momentum and helped Ryan advance.
“Thinking about losing on senior night because I missed those free throws, I didn’t want to be the reason we lose this game,” Mohair said. “I wanted to do everything I could for us to win.”
Biron Joseph exploded for 11 points in the first quarter to give the Lobos a 15-13 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Ryan put the ball in Mohair’s hands, and he delivered.
Mohair scored 13 of Ryan’s 16 points in the quarter, including a right-handed layup as time expired to give Ryan a 29-28 halftime lead.
Little Elm head coach Rusty Segler was subdued for most of the game. Overstreet was animated as usual. Both coaches received warnings to stay inside their respective coaching boxes near the benches in a game that was closely contested from start to finish.
Overstreet, the coaching staff and the entire Ryan bench jumped onto the court after Little Elm missed two shots in the closing seconds and Ryan’s Quincy Jones was fouled with 9.5 seconds left.
Little Elm (28-7) almost eliminated a five-point deficit in those final 9.5 seconds, but a halfcourt heave missed the mark on the final play of the game.
Ryan (20-11) endured two instances late in the game where the clock didn’t start when it should have — once with 2.9 seconds left and again with 1.9 seconds left.
Following the game, Segler took the blame for not properly preparing his team, and credited Ryan’s 2-1-2 zone defense, something the Raiders rarely employed in the two previous meetings between the teams.
But on Tuesday night, it was Mohair who inflicted the most damage.
“Not having an answer for Mohair, that’s my job,” Segler said. “I’ve got to do something about it, and I just kind of trusted that we would be able to do it man-to-man, but we didn’t.
“We said we weren’t going to let him beat us, and he did.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com .
RYAN 61, LITTLE ELM 59
12 — 61
16 — 59
Ryan (20-11) — Gilbert Jackson 11, Quincy Jones 3, Trey Cook 8, Sam Johnson 5, Marcus Holcomb 6, Trey Mohair 28.
Little Elm (27-8) — Biron Joseph 11, Devante Pullum 20, Bryan Owen 4, Anthony Egwu 18, Lamont West 6.