The Colony edges Lobos in thrilling district battle

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Keith Smith

Little Elm senior guard Keith Smith scored 10 points in Tuesday’s 60-55 loss at home against The Colony.

The Colony seniors Keith Miller and Myles Price wreaked havoc on the gridiron this past fall and are off to play Division I college football next season.

But in the meantime, the dynamic duo is trying to lead the Cougars to the playoffs on the basketball court, and that was evident in Tuesday night’s 60-55 victory over rival Little Elm.

Miller, a Colorado signee, had his way in the paint with a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds, while Texas Tech signee Price came through in the clutch with all four of his points late in the fourth, including a reverse layup and a pair of free throws in the final minute to give The Colony the lead for good.

“We all challenged [Miller] to step up tonight and he did,” said Cleve Ryan, The Colony head coach. “And I’ve appreciated [Price] and his attitude and him being able to come in late and help us. He’s just having fun with it, and he’s also a competitor. You don’t have to worry at all that he is going to compete and brings a lot with his athleticism.”

Coming in, The Colony was in the midst of a three-game losing skid and looked to turn things around in a hurry before falling too far behind in the District 8-5A standings.

On top of that, the Cougars had not tamed the Lobos since 2015 and had faced some devastating defeats at the hands of former Little Elm superstar RJ Hampton in recent history.

However, Ryan knew his squad simply needed a victory regardless of the circumstances and who they were matched up against.

“It really didn’t matter who the opponent was, we just needed a win,” he said. “We knew we needed to try and finish up the first round strong to get back on track.”

It wouldn’t have been a Little Elm-The Colony matchup had it not gone down to the wire, despite the Lobos looking like they would be in full control going into the half.

Little Elm weathered the early storm of Miller’s eight first-quarter points and led 16-11 after one behind five different Lobos finding the stat sheet in senior Keith Smith, senior Brian Hunter Jr., sophomore Walter Roddy-White, sophomore Ibrahima Diallo and senior Chris Murage.

Sophomore Autavius Hobbs then got cooking for the Lobos to begin the second stanza with back-to-back 3-pointers, including a nifty step-back jumper to give Little Elm its first double-digit lead of the night at 22-12.

Just when it seemed as if the Lobos would potentially pull away following a Smith make to extend the advantage to 12, Miller then came alive with the next 12 points for the Cougars to cut the deficit to just one in the final moments.

However, Hobbs dumped in a floater at the buzzer to cap off his magnificent second-quarter performance, as the Lobos clung on to a 31-28 advantage at the break.

All seemed right for Little Elm with a quick make from Roddy-White to start the third, but this time it was The Colony junior guard Braxton McCutcheon getting in on the action with two consecutive triples to give the Cougars their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

The two sides exchanged leads a whopping five times in the third quarter alone with the last coming on another buzzer-beater, this time for The Colony, as Miller collected a full-court pass from Price and sunk it as time expired to put the Cougars on top, 43-42.

The back-and-forth madness did not end there, as Murage and Smith splashed home a pair of shots from downtown on consecutive possessions to jumpstart the fourth quarter and it seemed as if Little Elm had enough with a 48-43 advantage to hang on the rest of the way.

The Colony had other plans.

The Cougars chipped away with trips to the free-throw line and a make from sophomore Jahyden Davis to even go back in front at 49-48 before the playoff hopefuls swapped leads for the next six possessions.

It even seemed as if the Lobos had nailed the dagger when junior guard Mike Prather connected on a shot deep in the corner to make it 55-53 in favor of Little Elm, but the Cougars had one more big-time bucket in their back pocket.

The Colony’s Jared McElroy, who hadn’t scored all game, responded right back with a 3-pointer of his own on the next trip down the court to then give his team the lead for good before a key defensive stop and multiple free throws sealed the much-needed win.

“We talk all the time about our mindset and playing through adversity,” Ryan said. “It’s a long game, so we have to make our possessions count on both ends and keep playing through it. We’re just fortunate to come out on top this time.”

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