Panthers News · Men’s Basketball Clinches 17th Dist. Championship

Martin HS – Arlington, TX

The North Crowley Men’s Basketball Program marched into hostile territory on Friday night to do battle as they traveled to the home of perennial rival, Arlington Martin HS, to take on the Martin Warriors…  Outcome?  NC won at every level!  The Panther fans, who knew that North Crowley had already taken care of business at the Freshman B, Freshman A and Junior Varsity levels prior to the 7:30 Varsity tip all stuck around to watch the “heavy weight” finale between the top 2 teams from District 4-6A.  North Crowley entered the game with a perfect 12-0 district record and Arl. Martin entered the contest at 11-2…  Even though the Panthers still would have controlled their own destiny for a district title with a loss, they had the opportunity to clinch on Friday night with three games left to play with a win.  As news media, pod-casters & fans from both sides packed the Martin gym to near capacity, both teams geared up for battle!

The game, which was loaded with offensive threats from both teams, had a defensive feel from the start.  The 2 defenses (NC’s ranked 1st in 4-6A at 41.2 points allowed per district game and Martin’s ranked 3rd at 49.4 per district contest) in 2019 have been designed totally different, but have proven to be equally effective.  The Panthers have slowed the game down from their traditional “up-tempo” style, defended in the half court and prided themselves on taking away their opponents primary strengths and finishing with “one and out” defensive possessions.  The Warriors, ironically, have defended the way North Crowley teams of the past have been successful for years…  94 feet of pressure and causing turnovers from their opponents to create easy offense.  The Panthers defense, proved to be stingier than the Warrior defense was opportunistic on Friday night, as the Panthers locked down early and often. The NC “D” held the Warriors to just 4 points in the first quarter and led 10-4 at the end of one.  The Panther defense continued to hold off the Warrior attacks in the second quarter until three fouls late in the half sent the Warriors to the line as they hit 5 of 6 free throws to cut their deficit to 5 at the half, 24-19.  “We played a great defensive first half” Head Coach Tommy Brakel told his team at the intermission.  “We need to limit fouls late in the halves as teams get into the bonus against us…  we can’t guard them on free throws!”

The message from their coach was heard loud and clear as they continued to put on a great defensive performance in the second half against a Warrior offense that leads Dist. 4-6A in scoring at 60 points per contest.  The Panthers entire defensive game plan revolved around limiting the threes by the Warrior offense and finishing with defensive rebounds.  The Panthers, who held the Warriors to just 3 of 14 shooting from three in the first half and only 2 offensive rebounds, “locked in” for the final 16 minutes of play.  The results?  More of the same… as the Panthers only allowed 1 three pointer in the entire second half and 2 offensive rebounds.  Junior Guards, Tre Ballard & Jacari Chambers chased around the Warrior sharp shooters all night, while a Senior front line of Jay Gates, Isaiah Crawford, Chris Jordan & Isaiah Wyatt controlled the defensive glass with 15 combined defensive rebounds for the game.  In spite of constantly attempting to force tempo as they fell further and further behind, the Warriors could only manage 19 more second half points against the Panther defense.  “I feel like we never allowed their shooters to get into any kind of a rhythm early and wore them down physically late.” Brakel said in post game interviews.  “It was just an all around good defensive performance by a group of guys that are proving to be one of the best defenses in the State!”  They say that defenses “travel” well tonight ours did… to Arl. Martin and turned in an outstanding performance which led to tonight’s win!”

The Panthers, as they have done the majority of the season, continued to methodically stretch their lead against their opponent throughout the second half of play. North Crowley outscored Arl. Martin 16-12 in the third quarter taking a 9 point, 40-31 lead into the final quarter.  The Panthers defense stayed focused and continued to wear down the Warriors and out score them 17-7 in the final 8 minutes of the game. Final: 57-38 North Crowley!

With all of the Panthers’ defense Friday night, the Panthers’ offense, #2 in 4-6A at 58.6 ppg, showed up as well!  The Panthers were led by the efficient scoring of Crawford, Wyatt, Chambers & Gates who shot a combined 23-35 (66%) from the field and 5-7 (71%) from three.  Crawford, the 6’6″ Senior, led all scorers with 21 points for the game.  Wyatt, a 6’3″ Senior (who was called on to play 4 different positions on Friday night from point guard to power forward) finished with 18 points and connected on 4-6 from three.  Chambers, a 6’2″ Junior Guard, rounded out the Panthers double figure scoring with 10 points on a perfect shooting night that saw him go 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the line.  Gates, a 6’8″ Senior Forward, battled 6’9″ Warrior Center Montreal Pena all night on the defensive end of the floor & still managed to go 3-4 from the field, including in emphatic dunk back over Pena in the second quarter.  Gates & Crawford led the Panthers in rebounding with 6 apiece & Senior Wing, Chris Jordan & Crawford led the Panthers in assists with 3 each.  Crawford also recorded a game high 3 blocked shots.

The North Crowley win, which clinched the district championship, moved their overall record to 29-3 on the season and kept them perfect in District 4-6A action at 13-0.  The district championship for the Panthers was an unheard of 17th in the last 19 seasons.  Their guaranteed playoff appearance is the 20th time the Panthers will see the post-season in the 21 years the school has been open & their 20+ wins is the 20th time.  With one more win… the Panthers will hit the 30 win mark 10th time as a program.  The Panthers return home on Tuesday night to face the Arl. Sam Houston Texans at 7:30pm & then will be at FWISD’s Billingsley Fieldhouse on Friday at 8:00pm to face the Trimble Tech Bulldogs.

District 4-6A Men’s Basketball Standings:

Place Team W L W L Next Game  02/05/19 Time
1 North Crowley 13 0 29 3 -vs- Arl. Sam Houston 7:30
2 Arl. Martin 11 3 19 9 Bye 7:30
3 Arl. Bowie 10 4 15 14 -vs- Arlington 7:30
4 Arlington 7 6 15 13 @ Arl. Bowie 7:30
5 FW Paschal 6 7 16 12 -vs- Arl. Lamar 7:30
6 Arl. Lamar 4 9 11 17 @ FW Paschal 7:30
7 Arl. Sam Houston 4 10 9 22 @ North Crowley 7:30
8 FW YMLA 3 10 5 18 -vs- FW Trimble Tech 7:30
9 FW Trimble Tech 2 11 7 18 @ FW YMLA 7:30