Winless on the season, the El Campo Ricebirds basketball makes a furious comeback against the Wharton Tigers at home Friday night, but they fall 56-54.
A 23 point fourth quarter and a near half-court three-point shot was the fuel that nearly carried El Campo to the win.
“Coach drew up some good stuff,” Tanner Oldag said. “We tried to get some steals, we ended up making a few big plays and got back in it.”
The Ricebirds started the fourth quarter down 13 points, with just over three minutes left to play, they still led by 12.
Trailing 52-40, the Ricebirds went on a run.
Running around a screen, Ray Villareal flashed at the top of the three-point arc. Oldag made a pass to Villareal, draining the shot. Wharton drove the lane but had to shoot over an outstretched Philip Hundl’s hands. Wharton missed the shot and ball fell out of bounds, last touched by the Tigers.
Isaiah Anderson after an almost Ricebird turnover drained a wide open three-pointer to cut the lead to 52-46 with 1:45 left to play.
Again Wharton drove the lane, this time trying a shot over the other Ricebird tower, Reagan Spenrath. Wharton missed the short and Spenrath grabbed the rebound. Anderson brought the ball up, but was trapped on the far sideline, double-teamed, he was looking for a free man to pass to. Oldag on the other side of the court cut in from the three-point line.
Anderson passed it to him, Oldag hit a layup but was fouled by Wharton, sending him to the line for a potential three-point play.
Oldag hit the free-throw and the once 13-point lead was cut three.
Wharton drove the lane once more, this time they caught a Ricebird in the air, drawing the foul on a layup. After two made free-throws, Wharton pushed the lead back to five with 1:047 left to play.
Oldag drove the baseline, with the defense paying attention to him, he dumped the ball into Spenrath for an open layup under the rim.
A Wharton turnover gave the Ricebirds the ball back, trailing three points with :42 seconds left.
Oldag launched a deep three but it was just a little short, bouncing off a Ricebirds’ hands.
Wharton came away with the rebound and after running a few seconds off the clock, a floater in the paint put them back up five.
“It was a close game, sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Oldag said. “We did what we could to come back but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
A three-pointer by Oldag from the half court circle cut the lead back to two but with seconds left Wharton inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
After five games of double-digit losses, the Ricebirds have strung back-to-back close games together.
The Ricebirds had three players in double-digit scoring.
Villareal had a team-high 19 points and five made threes. Oldag had 12 points and Anderson had 10.