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Dec, 2019

Wagner Wins Gold Cons. Championship

(By: Antonio G. Castillo)

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Allen, TX-

After both teams, Steele and Wagner, stumbled out of the blocks, both rebounded nicely to end up facing each other in the Gold bracket Consolation Championship of the Allen Holiday Invitational Tournament.

Although players have come and gone, the former district rivals are very familiar with each other, and it clearly showed at the level of intensity that was on display Saturday afternoon.

Things started just as expected, very competitive. The Knights would hold an 11-10 edge at the end of one. It was the 2nd quarter that gave Wagner some breathing room. Forward Joshua Cobbs would grab an offensive rebound and put back in the chip shot, for a 24-15 Thunderbird lead, prompting a Steele timeout. Wagner would use a 16-6 second quarter to build a 26-17 halftime lead. Senior Journee Phillips led all scorers at the break with 10 points, and finished with a game high 13pts, in route to an All-Tourney selection. 

The second half would be a see-saw contest, as the Knights would rally, trim the deficit to only a few points, and then Wagner would use spurts of it's own, pushing the lead back to the 9-10 point range. Steele would counter and make it a 34-30 game heading to the 4th.
Early in the last frame, the Knights would be within four points, 36-32, when a timely bucket by LJ Butler, after a crazy scramble for the ball, would put Wagner up 38-32. As Steele fought hard for one more run, an open 3-pointer by Brian Bigley from the left wing, made it a 46-36 game with 4:02 to play, and the Thunderbirds would hold on the rest of the way for the 56-50 win.

(Tourney Recap)

Mesquite Horn 64  Wagner 61
Wagner 45  Lake Travis 39
Wagner 55  Ft. Bend Travis 52

Little Rock Central 62  Steele 58 in OT
Steele 63  Prestonwood Christian 56
Steele 56  Amarillo 52

Both programs were minutes within advancing into the right side of the bracket in their opening games. The Thunderbirds held a six point lead in the 3rd quarter before the Jaguars rallied. Steele held a 5 point lead in overtime with 2 minutes to play, before the Tigers closed the game on a 9-0 run to pull it out. Mesquite Horn was a semifinalist, losing to finalist Allen, 57-55. Little Rock Central would fall in the quarterfinals to eventual tournament champion, Dickinson.

A competition level like this will not be seen again all season by both programs, until late February or early March. Both Steele and Wagner showed, they can play against top DFW and out of state competition. It's something that is needed for them to have a shot and make a deep playoff run come March. Don't be surprised if either team is the 5A or 6A representatives of Region IV when it's time for the State semifinals.