It looks like Central Texas County’s longest winning streak will continue.
And while LBJ didn’t capture the 24-5A district crown on Friday, the Jaguars will need an amazing set of results in their last five district games to not claim what will be their 26th straight district title after gaining a two-lead in the standings after wins over Northeast 63–60 at Delco Center.
“This is a big win as we are the best team around and are increasing our lead,” Jaguars post Ja’Quan McGee, who was one of three LBJ players in double figures and 10 points, told Jaguars post. “We had problems at the beginning of the season, but we built this team and we are going to continue to build. We would love nothing more than to be district champions again before making the playoffs.”
The game was a stark contrast to the first meeting between the two teams, which the Jaguars won 92-48 in early December.
Faced with the Raiders’ line-up, LBJ, whose coaching staff later admitted he wasn’t having the best game, struggled with consistency but used a strong third quarter and clung to the free-throw line to snatch victory.
The Jaguars (14-14, 8-1) were leading 8 of 8 on a charity streak in the last five minutes, with Corey Chester sinking the pair with 4 seconds left to put LBJ ahead by three before Northeast potentially drew 3. – the arrow on the buzzer bounced awry.
“I just knew that my team needed me at this important moment and I had to help the guys and get things done,” said Chester, who scored seven points. “It was nice to just help my team win.”
The North East (11-12, 5-3) led for much of the first half, taking a 22-16 lead late in the first quarter with Noah Flemmings scoring nine points and Miguel Contreras hitting two 3-pointers for the Raiders. while the game proceeded at a frantic pace.
More: Our weekly Boys’ High School Basketball report looks at key district races.
Two shots from David Blackwood and another three from Chester helped the Jaguars tie at 35–35 before halftime, and they took control of the struggle in the third quarter.
Latreveon McCutchin had six of his 11 points in the quarter and CJ Carter added five points as LBJ led double figures twice and carried a 54-45 lead into the fourth.
But the Northeast was not done.
Flemmings scored six points and Jordan Aguilar and Contreras hit three-pointers to put the Raiders 59–57 with less than two minutes left in the game. This set the stage for a wild last 60 seconds when, after McGee’s two free throws a few moments earlier, hqe gave the Jaguars a four lead, an LBJ dunk missed on the breakaway rebounded nearly half the court. Northeast took the ball and then quickly passed it to Caleb Flemmings, who immediately converted a three-pointer to make it 61–60.
More: Blind in one eye, Wimberley point guard Luke Watts focused on his team, future
The Raiders forced a handover to LBJ and after a bit of a frantic scramble, the Jaguars pulled one right back, resulting in a foul on Chester and he calmly converted his two big free throws.
“I feel like we handed out one tonight,” Northeast coach Sean S. Miller said. “We came in with the mindset and preparation for success and it worked, but sometimes we just fell back into some old habits.”
The Northeast, now in a three-way tie for second in the county with McCallum and LASA, may have been a bit of a surprise this season. Having lost four starters and their coach – John A. Smith, who took over at the Manor – from last year’s team that went 23-12 and defeated a good team at Pflugerville in the playoffs, many may not have expected that the Raiders will return in the postseason.
But Miller said his team—and even himself as a freshman head coach—had made giant strides in the last six weeks, found his strengths, and started to click.
“I’m very proud of our guys and I really believe in them and what we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “We have a shot at second place in the district and after beating McCallum last week and what we did tonight, I think it shows we’re going to be dangerous the rest of the way.”
Noah Flemings has 19 points ahead of the northeast, Caleb Flemmings has 14 points and Conteras has added 13.
Carter finished with 19 points to lead the Jaguars, who Chester noted have the team chemistry that is helping to make the program’s 26th straight district title a reality.
“We have a good brotherhood,” Chester said. “Everyone understands well what we want to achieve together, and this makes it easier to complete the tasks.”