ALEDO — There’s a saying in basketball that good shooters keep shooting.
After a poor performance in Ponder’s 73-70 double-overtime win over Van Alstyne last Friday, sophomore guard Brady Anderson put the past behind him and put the team on his back with a game-high 21 points as the Lions took down fellow District 9-2A foe Millsap 65-43 on Monday night in the Class 2A Region II quarterfinal.
“Brady responded after coming off a tough outing in his last game,” Ponder head coach Jude Stanley said. “I think he was 1-for-12 from the field and he just did not shoot the ball well. He wanted to redeem himself and for his team. He came out tonight and was able to shoot the ball really well. It just shows the kind of kid he is. He bounces back and doesn’t let that affect his game.”
Anderson went for eight points against Van Alstyne, but against the Bulldogs (13-13), Anderson had all phases of his game clicking, especially from long range as he drilled six 3-pointers to help stretch the floor.
“When he’s able to shoot the ball that well, it opens up many other things offensively also,” Stanley said. “The inside game gets open, and you saw some kids benefit from that because it stretches that defense out and makes it have to cover more ground. It opened up stuff for kids like Clay [Morgan] to get some easy buckets.”
Morgan, who led the Lions (28-7) with 35 points against Van Alstyne, wasn’t needed quite as much as he had 13 points.
The Lions were ferocious on defense to start the game, with Anderson getting things started with a block, something Stanley said goes unnoticed in his game.
Senior Josh Peterson’s bucket gave the Lions a 13-0 lead to start the game, which forced Millsap, which hadn’t made the playoffs since 1972 or had a playoff win in more than 40 years, to take its second timeout of the quarter.
“We planned to get after these guys defensively from the opening tip, and our kids followed through with the plan,” Stanley said. “It’s important for your kids to be coachable, and they were on the defensive end tonight. There was no letdown, and when we got the big lead, we tried to build that. When they’re not getting easy buckets, it makes the game seem a lot simpler, and our kids did that tonight.”
Ponder jettisoned its first-quarter energy into an even more explosive second quarter, scoring 21 points, with Anderson bookending the period with 3-pointers.
Holding a 34-13 coming out of halftime, Stanley emphasized finishing out the game with the same intensity and mental fortitude.
“We didn’t come over here just to play a half,” Stanley said. “We wanted to come out with intensity and aggressiveness and to play this thing all the way though. I felt like we did, and I told the kids that I thought our effort was excellent tonight.”
Millsap connected on a three-point play to start the third quarter, but Anderson delivered three more 3-pointers to extend Ponder’s lead to 43-18 and force yet another Millsap timeout.
“I just kept shooting,” Anderson said. “I’ve worked in practice a lot. I stayed after practice. I tried my best and got my shot as good as I could. I’ve been here once and it was just another game for me. There wasn’t any pressure. I just acted like it was another game.”
With a defense playing him even more closely, Anderson’s backdoor cut gave the Lions the 47-19 lead, which allowed Stanley to get some playing time for his bench and close out the game with his starters physically untaxed.
The Lions will now head to Stephenville for the regional semifinals for the 10th time in the past 14 years.
“We’re playing great,” Anderson said. “If we keep playing like we’ve been playing, we’ll do great on the road and on the way to state. We just have to play hard, play the whole game and not give up.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Ponder 65, Millsap 43
Ponder 13 21 13 18 — 65
Millsap 5 8 10 20 — 43
Ponder (28-7) — Brady Anderson 21, Clay Morgan 13, Chase Harris 7, Josh Peterson 7, Austin Spiker 5, Dustin Ferguson 4, Christian Worthington 4, Logan McCarty 2, Peyton Ford 2.
Millsap (13-13) — Jaxon Martin 16, Dalyn Clanin 10, Nich Channer 7, Aaron Peninger 5, Michael Rogers 5.