GRAPEVINE — On a night when the Flower Mound boys basketball team uncorked one of its highest-scoring performances of the season — an 84-64 rout of Keller in the bi-district playoffs — two moments roughly 15 seconds apart loomed large.
Midway through the third quarter, the Jaguars ignited a pair of fast breaks led by senior Jeffrey Mills. As the Air Force commit raced up the floor, he promptly swung the ball to the right corner to senior Gavin Green, waiting and ready to fire away from long range.
On the following possession, a Keller miss sprung another transition chance for Mills and Co., only this time the point guard slung the ball to the opposite corner for senior Jack Richter.
Both times, before either player could even launch their shot, several among the Flower Mound faithful in attendance held three fingers in the air — an ominous foreshadowing that haunted Keller from start to finish on a night when the Jaguars converted on 17 3-pointers to seize just the program’s second playoff win since 2013.
“We’re an unselfish team. We pass the ball really well and shoot it really well. When you combine great passers with great shooters and a high IQ, it’s great for going against a zone,” said Eric Littleton, Flower Mound head coach. “The guys moved the ball well and got it to the right spots. We spent all week working on moving the ball and nearly all of those were off of assists, which speaks to their unselfishness.”
Dealt a 1-3-1 zone defense for the majority of Tuesday’s contest, the Jaguars had the green light from long range all game long. Scrambling the Indians with their ball movement, Flower Mound generated a myriad of open 3-point shots on its way to a total of 51 points scored from beyond the arc.
Senior Gavin Green was the biggest benefactor, splashing in seven 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points. The sharp-shooter was one of four Jaguars to sink at least two triples in Tuesday’s win, joined by fellow seniors Jack Richter (17 points), Robert Cieri (15) and Preston Evans (10).
“When we see a zone, we smile. Keller’s zone is normally pretty effective, though,” Littleton said. “We had a week to prepare, though, and we spent that time figuring out how to get in the right spots.”
The treys came early and often, with Flower Mound converting five shots from deep in the opening stanza for a 27-15 lead through one quarter. Littleton noted that the Jaguars’ defense, which has held opponents to just 38% shooting on the season, helped spark the offense and open up a lead as large as 28 points (80-52) in the win.
“We forced them into 12 turnovers in the first half. A lot of the shots we hit came off our defensive pressure, turning them over and running,” he said. “That really helped get us into a rhythm and open the game up. When we get up and down, we’re a pretty good basketball team.”
Cieri was particularly active in that area, accounting for six steals to go along with five assists — routinely flustering Keller’s zone with his play-making from the wing, either dishing to an open teammate or faking a pass to freeze the defender and free up an open 3-point shot for himself.
“Robert is such a skilled, high-IQ guy. It’s unusual to have a guy his size who can dribble, pass and shoot. Sometimes he’ll even lead the break for us. I really liked what he did tonight,” Littleton said.
George stays hot in Lewisville win
Lewisville sophomore Keyonte George is playing some of his best basketball of the season at the perfect time, extending his streak of 30-point games to three after dropping 36 on Trophy Club Byron Nelson during Tuesday’s 71-61 bi-district win.
George added 12 rebounds and three assists, helping Lewisville withstand a combined 49 points scored from Austin Garner and Jesse Iweze as the Farmers qualified for the area round of the second consecutive year.
Advancing any further won’t come easy, however, with Lewisville drawing top-ranked Duncanville at a time and place to be determined.
Marcus’ late rally falls short
Despite outscoring 5-6A champion Denton Guyer by 11 points in the fourth quarter, Marcus’ last-ditch push wasn’t enough to overtake the state-ranked Wildcats in a 58-53 loss on Monday.
Trailing 46-30 entering the final stanza, the Marauders trimmed the gap as close as 52-48 inside the final 90 seconds, but struggles rebounding missed free throws precluded them from narrowing the deficit any further.
In defeat, Marcus landed three scorers in double figures, led by 14 points apiece from Nick Donnelly and Josh Condon. Cale Martens added 12 points — the same figure tallied by Guyer big man JaKobe Coles, who the Marauders fared well against on offense but struggled to score against in the paint on the other end of the floor.
Newman Smith still perfect
The Trojans improved to 28-0 on Monday after cruising to a 107-46 bi-district blowout of Samuell. Smith wasted no time in putting the Spartans away with a 31-8 lead after one quarter and a 65-19 advantage by halftime.
Jarren Cook led a cast of 10 Trojans who scored in the victory, piling up 26 points while Jeremy Obriki added 18 points and Domani Villaruel notched 12.
Smith looks to stay unbeaten in the area round when it takes on Frisco Centennial, which pulled out a first-round victory over McKinney North on Tuesday.