DECATUR — After Thursday’s double-overtime victory over Sunnyvale, Ponder entered Tuesday’s Class 2A regional quarterfinals against Peaster with a fighter’s mind-set.
Looking to hand out punches instead of take them, the Lions delivered a decisive second-quarter defensive blow en route to a 56-42 victory at Decatur High School.
“The game before this, we didn’t look like a regional tournament team,” Ponder coach Jude Stanley said of the Lions’ 59-53 victory over Sunnyvale. “So we challenged our kids to play at that top level that they’ve played at before. Tonight, we played toward that top level where we need to be. They wanted to come back and show everybody that the Lions are a contender and that we are ready to make a run this year.”
The victory secured Ponder a berth in the Class 2A Region 2 tournament this weekend at Tarleton State University in Stephenville. The Lions will play Red Oak Life at 8 p.m. Friday.
After Clay Morgan headlined Ponder’s offense with 32 points against Sunnyvale, the Lions employed a more balanced scoring regimen against the Greyhounds, and Kade Copp led the way with 17 points.
“Kade has developed into a tremendous senior leader for us,” Stanley said. “He came off a terrible injury last year. He only played a handful of games on a high ankle sprain, broken leg-type of injury. He elevated his game to where he is one of the top players in this region. He was the glue that kept it together tonight.”
Ponder, No. 6 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, took a 7-3 lead on points from three players. The Greyhounds started firing from long range, and Eric Siewert’s 3-pointer gave Peaster its first lead at 9-8.
Colten Wright’s putback of a Siewert miss pushed Peaster’s lead to 11-8, but Ponder’s Grant Boxell found Brady Anderson in the left corner for a contested 3 that swished home to tie the game at 11 late in the first quarter.
Ponder’s defense then neutralized Peaster’s outside shooting, limiting the Greyhounds to three points in the second quarter.
“They hit a big 3 and then we came back and hit a 3 to tie it at 11,” Stanley said. “Then we ran a play at the end of the quarter. We didn’t score, but we didn’t give them another opportunity at the lead. And I think that was important for our kids’ psyche to go into that second quarter either tied or with the lead.”
Ponder (29-9) used solid rebounding and foul-free discipline to distance itself from Peaster (23-13), and Micah Broadstreet’s 3-pointer in transition gave the Lions a 20-13 lead with over three minutes remaining in the first half.
After securing a defensive rebound, Copp’s coast-to-coast drive and flip shot in the lane gave the Lions their first double-digit lead at 24-14.
“For the most part, we stayed in attack mode throughout the ballgame,” Stanley said. “In the second quarter especially, they rose to the occasion defensively. They [Peaster] are a very good offensive team. They have guys that can shoot the ball from NBA range. More importantly, it was defensive rebounds. Yeah, we put up some points and stretched the lead out, but the reason we did that was we defended them very well.”
Despite struggling from the free throw line (22 of 38), the Lions were efficient of offense.
Boxell scored 11 points and Morgan added 10. Broadstreet’s three-point play with 3:47 remaining in the third helped Ponder to a 10-2 run to start the half that gave the Lions a 34-16 lead.
Needing to rally, the Greyhounds looked for quick offense and hoped for misses by the Lions at the free throw line.
Draven Tell, who led Peaster with 11 points, converted a three-point play with 1:59 remaining to draw the Greyhounds to within 49-40, but the Lions hit enough free throws down the stretch to send them to the regional semifinals.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
PONDER 56, PEASTER 42
Peaster (23-13) — Draven Tell 11, Ty Ballard 10, Colten Wright 9, Josh Petermeier 5, Parker Grudt 3, Eric Stewert 3, Josiah Bingaman 1.
Ponder (29-9) — Kade Copp 17, Grant Boxell 11, Clay Morgan 10, Micah Broadstreet 8, Brady Anderson 4, Reid Sanders 4, John Sidler 1, Josh Peterson 1.