DALLAS — Jesuit dribbled the ball opposite Plano Senior sophomore Makhi Dorsey at its own peril all game long Tuesday night.
The Wildcats’ lockdown point guard had a hand in a myriad of defensive stops against the Rangers and none bigger than a timely swipe of Ranger guard Shane Hatzmann inside the game’s final 30 seconds that set the wheels in motion for a come-from-behind 39-36 road victory that inched Plano closer to securing a playoff berth out of District 9-6A.
“It’s just a testament to those guys,” said Dean Christian, Plano head coach. “You just want them to play hard in an environment like this … and to execute the way they did down the stretch, I can’t say enough about how well these guys played.”
It meant weathering a frenzied home crowd for the Rangers, with Christian noting that the Wildcats prepped for Tuesday’s contest by playing music during practice so loud that the players could barely hear each other.
The Jesuit fans were practically at a fever pitch mere seconds into the fourth quarter after guard Gavin Perryman buried an off-balance 3-pointer for the Rangers’ largest lead of the night, 32-27. The Wildcats surrendered only two more field goals the rest of the ballgame, both coming off interior baskets by Darryl Brown, while chipping away at Jesuit’s momentum behind a slew of well-crafted finishes at the rim.
Brown’s final basket, a put-back with 3:10 remaining, put the Rangers up 36-35 — a lead Jesuit nursed inside the final minute until Dorsey’s aforementioned fourth steal of the ballgame turned over the Rangers with 25 seconds remaining.
“I don’t want [Dorsey] feeling like he has to come up with a play like that, but in that instance, we did ask him to try and make a play but that if he couldn’t then to foul and we’d be down no more than three. His instincts are unbelievable,” Christian said. “It’s a combination of natural ability, plus his arms are so long and he’s so quick. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Following a Perryman foul to deny a Dorsey score off the takeaway, the Wildcats took the lead on an out-of-bounds play that saw Bristow beat Brown around a screen and into the lane for an open layup and a 37-36 edge with 18 seconds to go.
The Rangers raced back down the floor for a counterstrike, but a mid-range jumper by Brown missed the mark and the rest was left to senior Ray Webber, who knocked down a pair of free throws over two trips to the line to cement the victory.
“This team has been through a lot. I’m honored to coach them, because I love to coach kids that are coachable,” Christian said. “It’s hard to find guys like that these days, but they’re coachable and they play the game the right way.”
The win improved the Wildcats to 5-5 in district play, good for fourth place and a two-game lead on Jesuit and McKinney Boyd for the conference’s final postseason berth. A loss Tuesday would have pulled Plano even with the Rangers, and that plight seemed very much in play after Jesuit — largely subdued in the first half — erupted for a 10-0 run inside the final 2:11 of the second quarter for a 19-17 lead heading into the break.
“We had the game under control, and for a moment there, we started playing like sophomores and juniors and were playing like we could do it on our own,” Christian said. “At the half, we regrouped and got back on the same page, which is tough to do because now their crowd is in it and you’re down. We knew it would be a dog fight, but they just kept battling.”
Dorsey and Bristow shouldered the load offensively with 16 and 13 points, respectively, going blow for blow with Jesuit’s vaunted duo of Brown (16 points) and Perryman (15) on a night when only five points came elsewhere in the Rangers’ lineup.
With a season sweep of Jesuit secured, Plano can further bolster its playoff odds at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it hosts Boyd.