HALTOM CITY — Throughout the season, Denton utilized its rambunctious defensive spirit to fluster teams into turnovers and poor shot selection.
On Tuesday night at Haltom High in the Class 4A Region I bi-district round of the playoffs, the Broncos found themselves looking in a mirror at a fellow run-and-gun squad in Fort Worth Dunbar, which had one of the most explosive, athletic guards Denton had seen all season.
The Broncos hung with the speedy Wildcats in the second half and had themselves within 10 points late in the fourth quarter, but Dennis Jones delivered clutch buckets down the stretch on the way to a game-high 31 points, aiding Dunbar to a 92-72 victory.
“It was difficult for us to adjust to their speed,” Denton head coach Harold Jackson said. “I thought we adjusted to it late in the game, but it was too little, too late.”
Down 74-55 midway through the fourth quarter after two Jones free throws, the Broncos showed a renewed vigor and rattled off an 11-2 run to get themselves to with 10 at 76-66.
“It was just defense,” Jackson said. “We knew they were going to take some difficult shots, and we were able to get some rebounds, and we converted those rebounds into some easy buckets. We just couldn’t sustain it.”
As fiercely as the Broncos roared back, Jones quickly reminded everyone of his talents with two straight buckets to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 80-66.
“I thought that we were just expending so much energy to get into the game, that it kind of wore us down and they were able to pull away down the stretch,” Jackson said.
Denton fell behind 9-0 to start the game after a Logan Ray 3-pointer, which quickly prompted Jackson to use a timeout with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
Out of the timeout, the Broncos came up with back-to-back buckets, but Jones went right back into the teeth of Denton’s trap game with four straight points.
To make matters worse, senior Adarian Harris, who played his final game as Bronco, picked up two quick fouls in the first two minutes and his third foul early in the second quarter, which forced Jackson to shuffle his substitutions.
Despite managing just four points in the first half, Harris still led the team with 17 points, while Deamonte Hughes added 15 points and KeyAndre Hearvey had 10 points.
The second quarter was all Dunbar (22-4), as they posted 31 points in the quarter to Denton’s 19, burning the Broncos (11-15) with their own transition offense and each time they would come up with a potential momentum shift the Wildcats were right there with a run of their own.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Fort Worth Dunbar 92, Denton 72
Rider (22-4) — Dennis Jones 31, Logan Ray 19, Zachery Evans 16, Quinton Brigham 13, Levin Johnson 4, Devonte Kinney 4, Andre Broadnax 3, Courtney Coulson 2.
Denton (11-15) — Adarian Harris 17, Deamonte Hughes 15, Curtis Stevenson, Keyandre Hearvey 10, Emerson Espinoza 8, Deandre Coleman 8, Edson Vasquez 2.