The Wildcats’ basketball team took third place in the Curtis Culwell Invitational in Garland with a pulse pounding 62-61 win over West Mesquite Saturday evening. Victor Iwuakor hit the winning shot for the Wildcats with just 1.3 seconds left to play. The heroics helped erase a turnover on an inbounds pass that resulted in a basket for West Mesquite. That basket gave the Wranglers a 60-59 lead with just 8.9 seconds remaining. The Wildcats stormed down the court and found Iwuakor under the basket and he hit the game winning shot. A desperation shot by West Mesquite was off the mark. The Wildcats won despite a rash of turnovers. West Mesquite also aided their cause with strong offensive rebounding, especially in the second half. The Wranglers also hit ten three pointers. The Wildcats got off to a great start and they led 21-12 after the first quarter. Their lead shrink some in the second quarter but they still held a 34-29 lead. The Wildcats also led after three quarters, 49-45. Keaston Willis had a very big game for the Wildcats with 24 points including five three-point baskets. Iwuakor scored 17 points and Godsgift Ezedinma added 13 points. Michael Jefferson had 8 points including a three-pointer and Bryson Lynn hit a three for his 3 points. The aptly named Tra Mallard led the Wranglers with 17 points including five baskets from behind the 3-point arc.
Earlier in the day, the Wildcats missed a chance to play in the tournament championship game due to their first loss of the year to South Garland, 60-51. The Colonels are the #6 ranked team in Texas in Class 6A. The game was actually tied up 51-51 with just under 5 minutes left to play. The Wildcats shots refused to fall late in the game and they were forced to foul. The Wildcats had a strong start in the game leading 22-19 after one quarter. South Garland moved ahead at halftime, 34-29. The Colonels’ lead was only 2 points after three quarters, 47-45. Willis lead the Wildcats with 15 points including one three-pointer. Iwuakor had 12 points, Jefferson added 10 points including three three-point baskets and Ezedinma had 9 points including a three. Lynn had 5 points with a three-pointer. South Garland’s Tyrese Maxey poured in 31 points including four three-point baskets.
After Saturday’s play, the Wildcats season record is 8-1. They are 3-0 against Class 5A teams and they are 5-1 against larger Class 6A teams. Next the Wildcats travel to North Lamar to play the Panthers Tuesday night at 7 p.m.