PONDER — As the Ponder crowd collectively came to its feet, chants of “District champs!” rang down from the bleachers in the closing seconds of Friday night’s District 9-2A game.
One of Ponder’s most impressive performances this season gave the Lions a share of the 9-2A crown.
In a matchup between two of Class 2A’s top teams, the Lions led from start to finish and rolled in a 61-37 victory against Peaster on Friday night at Ponder.
“In a game like this where you have two of the top teams in the state, you don’t expect the margin to be separated like this,” Ponder head coach Jude Stanley said. “It’s unexpected, but also I know what our kids are capable of doing.”
Ponder freshman guard Chase Harris led all scorers with 15 points, while sophomore guard Brady Anderson added 14 points, senior center Clay Morgan had 12 and junior guard Cameron Sallee had 10.
Ponder (24-7, 10-1 district) entered the game with a one-game lead in the district standings over Brock and Peaster (20-8, 8-3). Ponder was ranked No. 4 in Class 2A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, while Brock was ranked fifth and Peaster sixth.
The last time the two teams met, Ponder won 55-51.
On paper, Friday night’s game should have been close. On the court, it was a different story.
The two teams started the game by trading turnovers before both squads settled down in a packed gym.
Ponder led by two in the closing seconds of the first half before Harris launched a 3-pointer from the top of the arch. Harris’ shot fell through right before the final buzzer sounded, and Harris pumped his fist as the Lions headed into the locker room with a 27-22 lead.
Peaster’s Parker Grudt knocked down a 3-pointer to start the third quarter. That was as good as it got for the Greyhounds in the third.
Ponder reeled off 13 straight points and carried the momentum from that run for the rest of the game.
In the midst of that run, Decatur head coach Derron Smith put his hands on his hips and called a timeout with 4:45 remaining in the quarter. As Smith’s team took seats on the bench, the gym fell silent and Smith asked his squad if it was all too much.
Smith said problems that failed to surface all season appeared Friday night.
“Ponder picked up their intensity and we didn’t handle it well,” Smith said. “We started turning the ball over, and at one point in the third quarter, we had more turnovers than we had shots. Against somebody as good as them, you’ll put yourself too far behind if that ever happens like that.”
Anderson said the game was difficult, but the Lions knew they were capable of pulling off the big win.
With the season sweep of the Greyhounds, Ponder needs a win over Boyd to claim its first outright district title since 2011. More importantly, Ponder will have the district’s top playoff seed and will have a strong amount of confidence heading into the postseason.
“It gives us some momentum moving into the playoffs,” Stanley said, “that we’ve beaten two good teams in our district, in no doubt the toughest 2A district in the state.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869.
Ponder 61, Peaster 37
Peaster (20-8, 8-3) — Dathan Kemp 10, Colten Wright 6, Eric Siewart 9, Parker Grudt 5, Ty Ballard 2, Reid Adams 2, Draven Tell 3.
Ponder (24-7, 10-1) — Clay Morgan 12, Cameron Sallee 10, Logan McCarty 4, Brady Anderson 14, Chase Harris 15, Josh Peterson 2, Austin Spiker 3, Peyton Ford 1.