By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
RED OAK — Eleven Red Oak seniors celebrated their final home game in style Tuesday, defeating state-ranked Midlothian to clinch an undefeated boys’ basketball district championship.
Following May’s commencement exercises, junior point guard Darren Eubanks will be the lone Hawk hooper left to tell of the night that No. 12 Red Oak outlasted No. 13 Midlothian, 78-75, in double overtime come next season, too. The victory not only sealed the District 14-5A crown, but it also prevented the Panthers from repeating history by stealing a share of the title on the final night of the regular season.
Thanks to a 19-point third quarter, (23-9, 10-2) Midlothian entered the fourth quarter with a 43-37 lead. Red Oak (22-11, 12-0 in 14-5A) then hung 22 points in the fourth quarter behind 12 of Latrone Tuner’s game-high 34 points.
“When district started, we tried to go for an undefeated record,” Turner, a senior guard, told KBEC Sports. “And we did that.”
He added, “We played good as a team and stayed together, so that, at the end of the game, it was just awesome.”
The Hawks and Panthers eventually ended regulation tied at 59 and the first overtime frame knotted at 70. The game was then decided at the free-throw line during the second overtime quarter.
Following the game, Midlothian head coach Steven Middleton tipped his hat to Turner, saying he “took control and, in my opinion, played the best game that he has played during all of district…But, the free-throw line, it killed us.”
Middleton noted the Panthers played hard, especially when crashing the boards, but did not play particularly smart.
“We are happy to make the playoffs, but we gave away a district championship,” he added.
Joshua Sasser scored 14 points for Red Oak, while Emerson Wallace tallied 13 and Austin Foster scored 12 to round out the double-digit efforts for the Hawks.
Midlothian, meanwhile, was led by Nyk Madison’s 30 points. Omari Bobbitt tallied 15, Kelton Williams had 13, Corbin Green scored 10 and Jackson Tollesfbol had seven.
Red Oak head coach Jason Sasser echoed Turner’s sentiments. He added that the “hard-fought” win was the result of the Hawks’ continued efforts to continue “fighting and pushing through. We were playing so hard that we started to make mental mistakes because we were so fatigued. There were a lot of mental errors, but we overcame those and made enough offensive plays when we needed to.”
Sasser noted the Hawks will take solace in the fact that they can play with grit and resiliency, adding that “they know they can come back from any type of adversity.”
“Once district play started, we knew we wanted to do something special,” Sasser added. “We knew we wanted to win district and had a chance to go undefeated, both of which make this even more special. We had a tough non-district schedule because I like scheduling some of the best of the best and some of the top teams. We took a few more losses than I wanted, but it got us ready for district and will have us ready for the playoffs.
“[…] When you play a game like this, you just want to win. We made a lot of mistakes, but we ended up getting the victory. We could have won it in regulation or during the first overtime, but, again, nothing comes easy. I am glad that we had this kind of battle before the playoffs.”
The Hawks will now face West Mesquite at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at DeSoto High School, while Midlothian faces Mesquite Poteet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cedar Hill High School. Both games are part of the 5A bi-district championship round.
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith