Emotions ran high in the final moments Friday, but the Denton Broncos, led by the settling presence of senior Manny Patterson, were able to fend off 14th-ranked Trophy Club Nelson with a narrow 58-57 victory to jump into a three-way tie for first place in District 5-4A.
“I think the kids did a really good job, for the most part, of maintaining their composure and playing through times where we got ourselves in bad situations,” Denton head coach Harold Jackson said. “I thought the team did a good job of picking up a teammate after a teammate made a mistake.”
Patterson had eight points in the fourth quarter on the way to a team-high 15 points, and Deamonte Hughes had 11 points for the Broncos (11-13, 6-1 district), with Michael Jackson adding 10 points.
Nelson’s Keyunta Watkins led all scorers with 28 points, and his 10 fourth-quarter points kept the Bobcats neck-and-neck with the Broncos throughout the fourth quarter.
After Watkins’ 3-pointer with just under three minutes remaining brought the Bobcats (19-5, 6-1) to within a point, and Chris Nickells’ layup gave Nelson the lead with 2:40 remaining.
After a missed Denton shot, Patterson came up with a steal under his own basket and converted the layup with 2:16 left to restore the Broncos’ one-point lead. Hughes’ two free throws then gave the Broncos a three-point lead and Patterson added another bucket to make it a five-point lead.
“I thought Manny played well,” Jackson said. “He hurt his back midway through the second quarter. He fought through it in the second half and I was very proud of him. Manny is the common factor of the team. He doesn’t have big highs or little lows. He kind of goes at an even pace and that kind of like a soothing effect for the rest of the team. A lot of his teammates are very emotional. Manny is emotional, too, but not to that extent. He is very level headed and that’s good when you have a team leader like that.”
However, the Broncos weren’t out of the woods yet as Watkins hit another shot with 40 seconds remaining to bring the score to 57-54. After Michael Jackson split a pair of free throws to bring the score to 58-54, before Watkins hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter to boost his team to within one again.
Nelson was then able to secure a jump ball that gave Watkins an attempt for the go-ahead bucket, but the defensive play of the game was made by Adarian Harris, as he stepped in to take a charge on Watkins, who would have made the floating bank shot if it weren’t for the foul.
With both sides of fans standing with anticipation and excitement, Patterson said his focus was on keeping his team in the moment.
“The environment was something we weren’t used to,” Patterson said. “I was trying to keep the team together. I tried to motivate us and keep our heads. We didn’t want to get rattled with us being up because in the past we managed to choke it off somehow, but we just kept our heads. Coach told us to get layups and free throws with them in the double bonus and that’s what we did.”
The Broncos looked to have the game under wraps, but two missed free throws by the Broncos gave Watkins one more chance. However, Jackson said he had a feeling what Watkins had planned and had his defense ready for it.
“He is a great player and he is going to make great plays,” Jackson said of Watkins. “You just try to limit his plays, and I think toward the end of the game when he forced that last turnover, I kind of knew he was going to rush up the floor, so we tried to trap him. He ended up turning the ball over and ended up getting a foul. In late game situations, you need to take the ball out of his hands or he is going to kill you.”
The Bobcats used a 9-0 run to give themselves a 24-20 second-quarter lead, but the Broncos struck back with a 6-0 run of their own to regain the 26-24 lead. Jackson’s driving bucket as time expired gave Denton a 33-29 lead at halftime.
Jackson’s free throws early in the third quarter gave the Broncos their largest lead of the game at 38-31, but Byron Nelson was able to tie it a 43-43 at the end of three quarters.
With the Broncos moving into a tie for first place with Guyer and Byron Nelson, Jackson said his team has figured some things out in their district schedule that has allowed the Broncos to achieve their 6-1 record.
“I won’t say that we haven’t been here very often,” Jackson said. “Ten out of the 13 losses that we have, we were ahead late in games and we weren’t about to close the deal. I would like to believe that we have learned from those experiences and we have learned how to finish games. That has been the key in district that we are finishing games in district that we didn’t finish earlier in the season.”
Trophy Club Nelson 38, Denton 21
The Denton Lady Broncos’ defense performed up to head coach Dennis Krishka’s expectations, but their offense let them down as they fell to the Lady Bobcats.
“Defensively, we played well enough to win,” Krishka said. “When you hold a team to 30 points, you should be successful. We couldn’t put the ball in the hole and we turned the ball over too much.”
Nelson’s Traylyn Woodard led all scorers with 13 points and her 3-pointer helped give the Lady Bobcats an early 7-0 lead.
“She’s a quick handler,” Krishka said. “They set a lot of ball screens for her. I thought for the most part we did a good job, but she got a few of her points on steals. She stripped us at half-court and got layups. She is one of the better players in the league.”
Nelson held the Lady Broncos to just four points in each of the first two quarters as they took a 21-8 lead into halftime.
“I think Byron Nelson’s defense was pretty stout,” Krishka said. “They did a very nice job of keeping us out of the paint. They did a good job of handling our ball screens and they didn’t give us a lot of easy looks. We tried everything in our arsenal today, but we weren’t successful with it.”
Mariah Seastrunk led the Lady Broncos with six points, as Denton couldn’t handle Nelson’s press and committed several undisciplined turnovers.
“We had 26 turnovers,” Krishka said. “We work on press break every day. We’ve played them before. We knew what they were going to do. As coaches, we put them in a position to be successful, but they couldn’t execute.”
The Lady Broncos (7-17, 3-7) were able to play even with Nelson in the third quarter but couldn’t muster enough offense for a comeback as the Lady Bobcats improved to 18-9 on the season and 7-2 in District 5-4A.
Denton 58, Trophy Club Nelson 57
Nelson 17 12 14 14 — 57
Denton 20 13 10 15 — 58
Nelson — Keyunta Watkins 28, Thomas Williams 8, Conor Mullis 7, Emmanuel Nzekwesi 6, Chris Nickells 3, Brandon Hatfield 3, Cale Popovich 2.
Denton — Manny Patterson 15, Deamonte Hughes 11, Michael Jackson 10, Adarian Harris 6, Chavis Johnson 6, Ryan Daniels 5, DeRodney Thomas 3, Romeo Purvis 2
Trophy Club Nelson 38, Denton 21
Nelson 11 10 6 11 — 38
Denton 4 4 6 7 — 21
Nelson — Traylyn Woodard 13, Shaila Wolter 8, Madison Edwards 6, Rachel Burkhart 4, Dee Robinson 4, Sydney Smallwood 2, Haley Vailai 1.
Denton — Mariah Seastrunk 6, Myesha Taylor 4, April Pena 3, Le’andra Johnson 2, LaNeisha Hudspeth 2, Lyric King 2, Jordan Mazziotta 2.