LEWISVILLE –Frisco Wakeland head boys basketball coach Tyron Lee said he wasn’t surprised to see Saturday afternoon’s Class 5A bi-district championship against The Colony go down to the wire.
The competitive ways of the two teams can be traced to their respective head coaches. Lee was as an assistant coach on Cleve Ryan’s staff at The Colony for three years, and their competitive spirit was its finest when they played one-on-one basketball during their conference period at school.
“We would fight and scratch and claw,” Lee said. “When we play, we're as fierce competitors as you can be. Hopefully he knows and understands that off the court, when we are not competing, I love the guy as possibly as much as can be. He's been great to me, done great things for me.”
That fight-and-scratch-and-claw mentality was on full display Saturday.
The Colony gave District 9-5A champion Wakeland all that it could handle. The Cougars fought back to take the lead in the second quarter and even rallied to within six points late in the fourth quarter after the Wolverines took a 10-point lead.
But, Wakeland senior guard Cooper Sisco delivered when it counted the most. Sisco iced a 63-57 victory for the Wolverines with a layup with 18 seconds remaining in the game, polishing off a 22-point performance for the 6-foot-5 senior guard inside Lewisville High School.
Wakeland (23-3), ranked No. 18 in Class 5A in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, advances to the area round, where it will play Dallas Kimball at a time and location yet to be determined. Kimball outlasted Woodrow Wilson, 80-67, Saturday.
"Very talented," Lee said of Kimball. "I've had a chance to see them in person this year. That's good. The chance to play in the next round is great. I think no matter who you play, you've got to have the right mindset because it could go either way. Hopefully we’ll have that mindset."
Saturday’s matchup between the Cougars and Wolverines was a rematch of a Nov. 11 game in which Wakeland defeated The Colony, 65-48. But, the bi-district game had a different feel from the get-go.
Lee sensed from the opening tip that the big stage of the playoffs wasn’t too much for Wakeland junior guard Michael Niemann. His composure was evident in the first quarter as he sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a jump shot by The Colony senior Caden Sclafani to give the Wolverines a 12-6 lead.
Niemann finished with 13 points.
“You could just see it in his eyes,” Lee said of Niemann.
But, The Colony (12-13) was unfazed by Niemann’s shooting. Although the shots weren’t falling for the Cougars, it was hustle plays by The Colony that kept the score close. The Cougars played with a lot of energy, hustling to track down loose balls on both ends of the court.
The Colony was determined to get East Carolina signee Tay Mosher involved in the offense. He mixed in a combination of short- and mid-range jump shots on his way to a 19-point outing. And, he received scoring contributions from his teammates.
Cougar senior guard Eli Williams exposed an open lane to the basket, driving around two Wakeland defenders for a layup to give the Cougars a 20-19 lead with 4:25 remaining in the first half.
"I'm just proud of our guys' effort," Ryan said. "We gave them a good game. We were going to have to play well because they are a good team. I knew they would be a tough out, but I knew that our guys would be ready to play."
And The Colony – a team that prides itself on its 3-point shooting – trailed by just one point at halftime, 23-22, despite not making any 3s during the first half.
The Cougars made four 3-pointers during the second half, but Niemann answered with another 3 in the final minute of the third quarter to give Wakeland a 41-34 lead.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines got the job done in the paint.
Sisco, junior forward Quincy Adams (14 points) and senior forward Drake Kindsvater (eight points) hit the right notes, combining for 35 of Wakeland’s 40 second-half points.
Adams had a dunk to give the Wolverines a 58-50 lead with 1:02 left in the game.
"In the first half, we took shots looking for a whistle,” Lee said. “In the second half, we took shots trying to make shots. It was a big difference."