Horn and Tyler Lee have been the cream of the crop in 11-6A all season long, and as fate would have it, they meet on the final day of the regular season on Tuesday with the district championship on the line.
North Mesquite (2-9) has had some close calls, but had been eliminated from playoff contention and entered Friday playing for pride.
It was almost enough to pull the biggest upset of the district season.
The Stallions gave the Jaguars all they wanted and had a pair of opportunities to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Horn responded like a championship team, closing the game on a 14-2 run to pull away for a 62-49 victory at North Mesquite High School.
The Jaguars improve to 10-1 in 11-6A and ensure that their clash with Tyler Lee (10-1) on Tuesday will be a winner-take-all affair with the district title and top seed in the playoffs on the line.
Horn never trailed, but its lead was in a precarious state in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by five, North Mesquite’s Destinee Holiday scored inside and Arika Leroy knocked down a 3-pointer to tie it at 39-39 with 6:38 left.
Horn star Jasmine Shavers, who had 13 of her game-high 25 points in the final frame, had an immediate answer, knocking down a trey with a foul and completing the four-point play.
Shavers soon after scored on back-to-back layups, but the Stallions stayed right there, as Nelise Moore scored inside, LeRoy knocked down a basket, Holiday hit a pair of free throws and Kayla Pope hit a runner to close to within 48-47.
With three minutes left, North Mesquite had a chance to take the lead, but missed a free throw and after getting the rebound, the putback attempt was also off the mark.
The teams then traded baskets, with Camden Harston hitting a layup for Horn and LeRoy knocking down a floater for the Stallions to make it 50-49, but it was all Jaguars from there.
Harston converted inside and Viencia Jackson followed with a three-point play to push the lead to 56-49. Jackson and Shavers then combined to hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
Horn’s work at the charity stripe was one of the defining factors of the game, as they hit 14-of-16 in the second half. North Mesquite, conversely, was only 8-of-18 on free throws in the game.
In addition to Shavers, Jackson poured in 17 points and Tra’Liyah Washington pulled down 11 rebounds for the Jaguars. LeRoy led the Stallions with 15 points, while Pope had 14 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
Horn was a big favorite and showed it at the start, as Shavers hit a layup off the opening tip and Jackson knocked down a 3-pointer and another basket for a 7-0 lead.
North Mesquite finally got untracked offensively on a jumper by LeRoy, but the Jaguars maintained that same advantage and made it 16-6 early in the second after an 8-footer by Shavers.
Tynia Dotsy scored six points in the second quarter for Horn, but the Stallions continued to hang around and four late points from Pope helped them stay within 25-19 at halftime.
The Jaguars led 34-26 late in the third quarter when North Mesquite struck with a 7-0 run. Pope hit a runner, Melanie Lomeli knocked down a 3-pointer and LeRoy scored to close the gap to 34-33.
Shavers hit a pair of free throws, but the Stallions made just 1-of-4 from the line in the final seconds, leaving them with a 36-34 deficit heading to the fourth.
North Mesquite finally drew even at 39-39 and was down by one on three occasions during the fourth quarter, but Horn did what it needed down the stretch to earn the victory.