After years of struggling during district play, the El Campo Ricebirds will take a win any way they can get it.
El Campo (12-6, 3-1) picked up back-to-back wins by a combined five points, beating the Navasota Rattlers 45-42 Friday night and the Sealy Tigers 70-68 Monday night, both games at Ricebird Gym.
The Ricebirds are tied with Brookshire Royal and Wharton for first place in district.
In both games, El Campo had to come from behind and hit high-pressure free-throws in the fourth quarter to seal the wins.
“If you win by one point or 100 points, it’s still a win,” Ricebirds coach Kevin Lewis said. “I just tell these guys, compete to the end, all we need to do is win by one point, they’re showing they’re very resilient.”
El Campo had clutch performances from different Ricebirds in both games.
The Ricebirds’ offense started with a 21-point first quarter Monday, hitting three threes to lead Sealy by five. The Tigers defense picked up and El Campo’s offense started to commit turnovers. The combination saw the Tigers pull in front and eventually they led by 13 points with under one minute left in the third quarter.
Despite not much going right for El Campo, they went on a quick 4-0 run to make it a nine point game as the quarter came to a close.
Sealy opened with three straight turnovers and El Campo capitalized with a 7-0 run to make it a 56-54 game. Ricebird senior post Reagan Spenrath scored six of the last 11 points.
The game remained tight the rest of the fourth. Trailing 66-64 with just over a minute remaining, El Campo’s defense stepped up. Spenrath blocked a Tigers’ layup attempt. Ricebirds sophomore guard Rueben Owens II scored on a fast break to tie the game. El Campo junior Isaiah Anderson on the following possession came up with a steal and was instantly fouled. Anderson made one free-throw to make it a three-point game. Owens grabbed another El Campo steal and scored on a layup.
Sealy kept the game close getting a layup with 17 seconds left to put them down one point. From there on out, it was a free-throw game, and El Campo held the edge.
Both Spenrath and junior Trinceton Foley scored a game-high 20 points. Spenrath also had 12 rebounds for a double-double and three blocks. Anderson had five steals to go with 16 points and five rebounds.
“This team has more potential (then in years past),” Foley said. “We’re always ready to bust our butts to go out and get the win.”
Against the Rattlers, it was Foley and freshman La’Darian Lewis coming through.
Trailing for most of the night, Foley connected on a three-pointer to put them ahead 40-39. The Rattlers went back in front after a layup with just over a minute remaining.
Lewis down the stretch converted on 5 of 6 free-throws attempted to put El Campo in the lead and hold on to the win.
“I was doing it for my uncle,” Lewis said. “Every time I made a free-throw I looked up (towards the sky) showing him this was for him.”
Lewis on the night was 6 for 8 at the line with a game-high 15 points.
El Campo plays Bellville on the road Friday night at 7 p.m.