LONGVIEW — At the Lobo Coliseum Tuesday night, the limited-roster Tyler Lions team pushed Lobo Longview to the limit.
Playing with two of their regular varsity players and just eight players, the Lions lost to Lobo, 68–62.
Senior Ashad Walker — a four-year-old varsity Lion — and freshman Kenson Anderson were the only two regular Lion players to dress up on Tuesday night as a result of Friday’s first-quarter brawl between Tyler High and Texas High.
“Ashad is a four-year-old writer,” Tyler’s head coach Justin Johnson said. “There are games where we need him for the full 32 minutes. He has done a good job as a leader, and that’s all we ask of him this year, just be a good leader.
“KJ (Anderson) did a great job. He was himself. He’s just going to go through some growing pains. But at the same time, he has good skills and he will definitely help us a lot.”
Seniors Takori Gilliam, Shakawon Brooks, Da’Marius McGowan and Montrell Wade; juniors Jace Sanford, Marquette Martin, Derrick McFall and Julian Deuce; and sophomore Jaishua Brown were unavailable on Tuesday.
Juniors Aidan Keys and Mackie Adams; and sophomores Kayland Garvey, Tywin McMiller, Jordon Mitchell, and LaTavion Golden joined Walker and Anderson on the varsity team for the competition.
“My kids fought tooth and nail, guys who got ahead. They came in and we executed the game plan. They worked hard, played hard and played physically. They did a great job for us tonight.”
Longview took a 6-3 lead. Mitchell hit the top three and Anderson made a layup due to an interception and a pass from Keys to take an 8–6 lead.
With Longview 10–8, Tyler equalized with Mitchell’s layup and Walker’s layup with 24 seconds left in the first quarter gave the Lions a 12–10 lead.
Robert Blandburg was fouled with four seconds left and made both free throws to equalize at 12 after the first quarter.
Longview opened the second quarter with a 7-0 score, and Davis Justice sparked a treble. The Lobos extended their lead to 11, 26–15 before Anderson scored a goal and Walker hit a 3-pointer to cut the score to 26–20. A Justice triple and a free throw extended the lead to 10, with Longview leading 32–24 at halftime.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Longview’s lead was 49-40.
After the Blandburg dunk, the Lobos hit double figures again, 55–44.
McMiller’s two free throws and Mitchell’s free throw cut the score to 55-48. The Lions took the lead to 61–56 with 1:41 to play after two free throws from Walker and a free throw from Keys.
Longview brought the count back to seven when Blandburg scored again. Layups by McMiller and Anderson with Chris Head’s free throw cut the score to 64-60 with 12 seconds left. Walker made two more free throws with three seconds left. Then headbutt two more to close the game.
Walker led the Lions (16–6, 4–2) with 24 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Mitchell had 15 points. McMiller scored 7 points. Anderson had 6 points and 6 rebounds. Golden scored 5 points. Garvey had 3 points. Keys and Adams scored 1 point each. Keys also had five assists and three steals.
Blandburg led the Lobos (3–3 district) with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Head scored 12 points and five assists. Justice and Kendall Mitchell scored 9 points each. Mitchell also had five rebounds and three assists. Longview’s other scorers were Campbell Williams 8; Chris Wilder 4; Jaylen Hawley-Lee 2; and Kendrick Brown 2.
All 16 players who entered the game on Tuesday scored.
Longview will play Friday at Hallsville. Tyler will host the top-ranked Mount Pleasant at 7:00 pm on Friday.
Johnson said the Lions should bring some players back for Friday’s game.