Six weeks academic progress reports were distributed to students Friday in their second-period classes. The current 9-weeks grading cycle ends on March 9.
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Paris ISD students will get a three-day weekend when all campuses have staff development on Friday, Feb. 23.
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Zach Lamb heads the ball into the Terrell net for the tying goal, while (below) Nick Mitchell is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning goal in the Wildcats’ 2-1 victory in the R. K. Hall & Kings Classic championship game.
One player followed his coach’s advice. Another one didn’t.
The player who did, Wildcat sophomore Nick Mitchell, scored the first goal of his varsity career to finish an improbable comeback day at the R.K. Hall & Kings Classic soccer tournament as host Paris rallied to score twice in the final 15 minutes of a 2-1 win over Terrell in the boys championship.
The low-flying rocket blast from 35 yards out by Mitchell with 2:39 remaining proved to be the ultimate difference in the match Saturday night at Wildcat Stadium It came just moments after his coach, Jeremy Beshirs, admonished him to “shoot the ball hard and low” when Mitchell misfired on a clear shot from 15 yards out that sailed over the football goalposts.
Terrell, meanwhile, was sailing along with a 1-0 lead and in complete control when a Tiger forward picked up his second yellow card of the match. The result was a red card ejection from the field which forced the Tigers to play the final 26:08 down a man.
Just moments earlier, following some physical play on the field, the Terrell coach called his player to the sidelines, presumably to remind him that he already had one yellow card and to keep his emotions in check.
The red card ejection caused a complete shift in momentum as Terrell was forced to drop all but one attacker back to its side of the field to protect the slim lead.
With 14:57 left to play, the Cats got the game-tying goal. Justin Mitchell’s free kick from 35 yards out bounced free just outside the goal-line when Christian Mitchell and the Terrell goalie collided in a mid-air attempt at the ball. Zach Lamb was in perfect position to head the loose ball into the net.
It was the Wildcat junior’s second goal of the day. Lamb’s score earlier that afternoon gave Paris a 2-0 lead over Pittsburg and earned the Cats a berth in the title game against Terrell, which had beaten Paris, 1-0, 24 hours earlier.
The Tigers used their superior speed to control possession Saturday, and they broke on top, 1-0, with 9:07 remaining until halftime. The Tigers’ dangerous striker Camerin Propes sprinted into a clearing in the middle of the field, wheeled and took an accurate shot from 20 yards out.
Cat goalkeeper Cade Blackmon couldn’t make the stop on that play, but he kept Terrell from extending the lead 10 minutes into the second half when he punched a ball over the goal that was net-bound on a free kick from 30 yards. After the Cats tied the match on Lamb’s tally, Blackmon preserved the tie when he successful challenged a re-direct off another free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
It appeared the championship match was headed for a shootout when Paris made one more offensive push in the final 10 minutes. That action included Nick Mitchell’s failed try. After a Terrell goal kick, the Cats regained possession, Mitchell found an opening, and Paris found a last-minutes hero.
“That was a beautiful goal,” Beshirs said. “We needed those two wins today.”
The Cats, now 3-5-1 for the season, return to Wildcat Stadium Tuesday to host Marshall in a pair of pre-district matches.
As group play ended Saturday, both Paris boys and girls varsity teams had clear objectives to reach the title matches in their respective brackets.
The Ladycats needed to close out the final 3 minutes of their match to obtain a scoreless tie and enough points to assure a berth in the girls final. They couldn’t, as for the second straight day the Ladycats allowed a goal in the closing minutes to offset an otherwise good result against a quality opponent.
After a deep throw-in, a Sulphur Springs forward made a short run down the right flank and fired from a sharp angle in the right corner of the end zone. The ball bounced at the feet of Ladycat goalkeeper Emily Williams and into the far corner of the goal.
The Ladycats dropped a 1-0 decision, then faced North Lamar in a tiebreaker shootout to determine the top two places from the group. The Pantherettes won, 6-5, in 7 rounds of PK shots to advance to the girls final vs. Sulphur Springs. The Ladycats had to immediately turn around and play Crandall in a rematch for third place.
That third-place match was played on the practice field by the tennis courts. As parents parked their cars nearby and watched from the relative comfort of their vehicles, Crandall edged the Ladycats, 3-2.
Paris (2-4-2) had goals by junior Tieren Gates and sophomore Estephany Balderas. They also assisted on each other’s goals.
Sulphur Springs made a first-half goal stand up in a 1-0 win over the Pantherettes in the championship game.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, also found themselves locked in a scoreless tie with their final group-play opponent, Pittsburg, with just 16 minutes left in the match. Paris needed 9 points to edge Denison for first place in their group.
With a cold northern wind at their backs in the second half, the Cats had numerous chances to break the ice. The breakthrough finally came on a Colin Harris goal assisted by Justin Mitchell. It gave them 8 potential points, but they needed a second goal.
They got it just 3 minutes later. A free kick traveled 50 yards in the air to bounce in a crowd 15 yards in front of the Pitt goal. Lamb wheeled and buried the shot to give Paris the 2-0 lead it needed for the 9 points.
In other group play matches Saturday on the girls’ side, NL tied Crandall, 1-1, and Denison beat Bonham, 2-0. On the boys’ side, Denison beat Pleasant Grove, 1-0, and Terrell beat North Lamar, 4-1. Denison beat Pittsburg, 1-0, in the boys’ third-place match.
Jared Embry puts the exclamation point on an alley-oop dunk off a Jalen Wallace assist
Excuse District 15-4A opponents if it looks like they’re seeing double. J. Embry of Paris seems to be everywhere, blocking shots, getting rebounds, breaking the press in the backcourt and leading it in the frontcourt, producing acrobatic dunks, and, most of all, scoring.
Liberty-Eylau found out, first-hand, Friday night in the Wildcats’ 82-54 District 15-4A basketball opener in the Wildcat Gym. While 6-5 senior Jare Embry had a game-high 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 steals, 6-6 twin Jordan Embry was dominating in the paint with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
It’s a familiar combo that has taken the 22-2 Cats to top 5 status in Class 4A and threatens to make a mockery of this year’s district chase. While L-E’s athletic sharp-shooters (the Leopards knocked down seven 3’s) managed to keep the Cats within sight Friday, there was never much doubt as to the ultimate winner.
Paris led, 20-7, after one quarter and was up by a 38-22 count by halftime. The Cats put the game away with a 24-13 edge in the third quarter.
All five Paris starters reached double figures in scoring. In addition to the Embrys’ ledger, sophomore Josh Robinson had a late surge to reach 20 points, while Jalen Wallace and Jalon Pipkins each netted 10. Wallace also recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds.
The Leopards (11-7) were led by Decorian Meadows with 20, K.T. Hernandez 13, and Deonte Crawford 12.
The next opponent who will try to stop the Cats’ attempt at a perfect district run will be the North Lamar Panthers. The crosstown rivals play three games starting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday night in the Panther Gym. Like L-E, the Panthers have dangerous outside shooters but will be at a disadvantage in height.
NL topped Atlanta, 58-41, and Pleasant Grove beat Pittsburg, 71-48, in other district games Friday.
Paris also swept both sub-varsity matches with L-E. The Cat JV won, 64-46, as Jordan Mitchell topped scoring with 11 points. The freshmen rallied to send their game into overtime which they won, 44-34. Jaylen Henderson scored 10.
Jordan Embry swats away one of his seven blocked shots
For the first five minutes of their District 15-4A game Friday vs. Liberty-Eylau in the Wildcat Gym, the Paris Ladycats looked nothing like the team that hasn’t seen the winning side of the scoreboard in six weeks. Then reality set in, as the turnovers, poor shots, and porous defense returned. The Lady Leopards left the Ladycats in their rearview mirror as they headed back to Texarkana with a 70-37 decision.
L-E, 16-6 overall, remained tied with Atlanta for the early district girls lead with 3-0 marks. Paris, meanwhile, falls to 4-21 for the season and 0-3 in district play. The Ladycats’ last win was on Dec. 5. Their next chance to break the skid will come Monday when they travel to North Lamar to face the Pantherettes.
Paris looked like it had discovered a magic elixir to save the season when they battled L-E toe-to-toe in the early going. A 3-point play by Zakayla Ashley had Paris on top, 13-10. After the Ladycats led by a 15-12 count, the Lady Leopards went on 9-0 run to lead at the first break, 21-15.
Personal fouls and turnovers were the name of game the rest of the way for the Ladycats. If you like to free throw misses, this was the game for you. The teams combined to shoot 76 free throws and misfired on 42 of them. Six players fouled out, including 5 Ladycats.
One player who was on target, however, was L-E’s Lerena Dunn who scored 25 before fouling out, too.
Paris freshman Kiaunsha Jackson was the only Ladycat in double figures at 11.
Paris won the JV match, 42-31. Irone Franklin scored 16 and Tijamess McGee 12.
Ecstasy & Agony
Paris midfielder Monica Silva’s corner kick hooks into the net for a goal (above) that looked to be the game-winner until Crandall’s Madison Pottorff (right) flicked the ball between Ladycat defender Sarah Bloodworth and goalie Emily Williams into the net with 1:25 left to produce a 1-1 tie in Friday’s action at the R.K. Hall & Kings Classic soccer tournament at Wildcat Stadium.
For 68 minutes, prolific Crandall sophomore goal-scorer Madison Potthorff played a cat-and-mouse game with the Paris Ladycats. Then, suddenly, just 1:25 from a 1-0 signature win over the Region 2 second-ranked team, the Ladycats had their hearts broken when the Lady Pirates sprang a trap and Potthorff chased down a midfield lob to flick the ball into a vacated Paris net and tie the Day 2 match, 1-1, Friday at the R. K. Hall & Kings Classic soccer tournament.
The tournament ends its annual 3-day run Saturday at Wildcat Stadium.
It appeared the Ladycats would avenge a 1-0 loss to Crandall that ended their 2015 season in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs. Senior Monica Silva was aided by a strong north breeze when her corner kick midway through the first half hooked over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net.
Paris battled the wind and the constant threat that Potthorff, who scored the winning goal that eliminated the Ladycats last year and topped the 50-goal mark for her freshman season, was lurking near the Paris goal to take advantage of a miscue.
That mistake happened with less than 2 minutes remaining. One of the Ladycats’ best players awkwardly slipped and turned the ball over at midfield. Crandall immediately pounced, and Potthorff chased down a long lob carried by the wind. As Ladycat sweeper Sarah Bloodworth and goalie Emily Williams converged, Potthorff found a seam between the two Paris defenders and her left-footed shot rolled agonizingly into the empty net.
Despite the tie, the Ladycats earned enough points to lead their group after 2 of the 3 preliminary matches. In other girls’ matches, North Lamar blanked Denison, 5-0, and Sulphur Springs shut out Bonham, 4-0. Paris leads Group 1 with 14 points, while NL has 10, and Bonham 0.
The Ladycats finish group play Saturday against Sulphur Springs, while NL faces Crandall.
On the boys’ side, the Wildcats ended Day 2 with a 1-0 loss to Terrell. Other boys results saw the NL boys and Pleasant Grove tie, 1-1, while Denison beat Pittsburg, 3-1. Paris concludes group play Saturday with a match vs. Pitt.
A foul on Colin Harris in the final 5 minutes sets up a Paris PK goal and 1-0 win over Pleasant Grove
Shutouts were the order of the first day of tournament action in the R.K. Hall & Kings Classic at Wildcat Stadium. All six opening-day matches produced zeros on the losing side of the scoreboard including wins by both Paris teams.
The Ladycats (2-2-1) dominated Class 5A Denison, 3-0, in the afternoon, and the Wildcats (1-4-1) notched their first win of the season with a 1-0 decision over Pleasant Grove in the day’s final match.
The Cats held a big edge in shots on goal, but were just 5 minutes away from a scoreless tie when junior Colin Harris was taken down on a foul in the 18-yard box. Senior Justin Mitchell took the penalty kick and had the PG goalie guessing the wrong way as his shot found the left corner of the goal.
Junior Wildcat goalie Cade Blackmon didn’t see many chances on his end of the field, but he made a solid deflection of a strike from 15 yards out on a counter down the right flank with about 20 minutes left in the match. Blackmon had a big ally in the first half when a Hawk rocket clang off the goalpost.
Paris faces Terrell in a 7 p.m. match to wrap up Day 1 action on Friday. Terrell beat Denison, 2-0, while Pittsburg beat North Lamar, 3-0, in other boys matches.
The Ladycats were missing a pair of regulars: goalkeeper Lindi Hamner, who was ill, and forward Tieren Gates, who was attending an FFA convention in Mount Vernon. It didn’t matter in their opening match, as Paris dominated play and backup goalie Emily Williams was rarely needed.
Sophomore Estephany Balderas, the Ladycats’ leading scorer, gave Paris a 1-0 lead with a 20-yard free kick that rolled into the Denison net with 15:40 remaining until halftime. The set piece was created by a goal kick that was made outside the box.
Paris had a strong south breeze at its back in the first half, but even with the change of sides at halftime the Ladycats found the net two more times. Sophomore Zanesha Dangerfield, who replaced Gates in the lineup, figured into both goals. With 28:05 left in the match, the Denison goalie couldn’t corral a Dangerfield shot, and sophomore Katy Hall popped in the rebound. Then, with 17 minutes remaining, Dangerfield was fouled in the 18-yard box, and senior Monica Silva converted the PK.
Earlier in the day, the Sulphur Springs girls beat North Lamar, 1-0, and the Crandall girls overpowered Bonham, 4-0.
Paris and Crandall will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday in a rematch of last season’s area round playoff which the Lady Pirates won by a 1-0 count.
Estephany Balderas fires from 8 yards out to net the lone Paris goal
The Paris Ladycats scored first, but the Mount Pleasant Lady Tigers rallied for a pair of goals to take a 2-1 decision Tuesday in varsity girls soccer at Wildcat Stadium
Paris, now 1-2-1 for the season, will host the R. K. Hall & Kings Classic tournament starting Thursday. The Ladycats’ first match will be at 2:30 p.m. vs. Denison.
Tuesday’s pre-district match was a story of contrasting halves of play. Paris dominated action in the first 40 minutes and took a 1-0 lead with 20:52 left in the half when sophomore Estephany Balderas struck a deep throw-in by Emily Williams off the bounce from 8 yards out that beat the MP goalie to the short side post.
Balderas almost netted a second goal just four minutes later on a missile from 20 yards out, but the Lady Tiger goalkeeper made a diving save.
Despite maintaining constant pressure on the MP defense most of the first half, the Lady Tigers suddenly knotted the score with 12:01 left until halftime on a breakaway down the left flank and crossing shot that found the far corner post.
It looked like the Ladycats would respond, but they misfired on several good chances before halftime.
Momentum changed drastically in the second half, and the Lady Tigers took the lead, 2-1, with 35:19 left on a counter-attack. A long sweeping run down the right flank resulted in a shot from 10 yards out that traveled across the goalmouth and inside the far post.
MP controlled possession in the second half and had several more opportunities to add to the lead, but Paris goalie Lindi Hamner made a couple of nice stops, and deep defender Sarah Bloodworth swept away a pair of breakaways.
The Paris Ladycats JV soccer team battled a physical Liberty-Eylau varsity to take a 5-1 decision Tuesday in Texarkana.
Ryan Bigler scored four goals and assisted on the other tally. Her first goal was on a penalty kick, then she got the natural hat trick before halftime with assists recorded by Soyla Torres and Yenniger Fartan.
After L-E scored on a PK to trim the lead to 3-1, the Ladycats found the net twice in the second half on an Erica Cole goal (with Bigler assist) and Bigler’s fourth goal (assisted by Ashley Wilson).
The next action for the Paris JV is scheduled for Jan. 29 at Kilgore.
The Paris Wildcats varsity boys soccer team will host the R.K. Hall & Kings Classic tournament Thursday through Saturday at Wildcat Stadium still seeking their first win of the young season.
The Cats are off to a 0-4-1 start after facing tough competition on the road during the opening week of the season. Paris was 0-2-1 at the Hallsville Tournament last weekend, then took a long trip to Wichita Falls Monday where they fell to the Coyotes, 2-0.
“I was really pleased with our effort against Wichita Falls,” Paris coach Jeremy Beshirs said about the loss to the Class 5A regionally ranked opponent. “They’re a really strong team, but we played well.”
Paris also lost to a trio of Class 5A teams at the Hallsville Tournament. The Cats fell to host Hallsville, 2-1, in the opener despite scoring first on a goal by junior Stanley Watkins. They finished with a 0-0 tie against Lindale, although Lindale won the shootout, 4-2. In between was a 3-0 loss to tournament champion Palestine, the 2nd-ranked Class 4A team in Region 3. They closed the tournament with a 4-1 loss to Marshall in another match where Watkins scored the game’s first goal.
The Paris Wildcats, who dropped three notches to No. 5 in the weekly state coaches rankings following Saturday’s loss at Dallas Lincoln, closed out the pre-district portion of their basketball schedule Monday with a 68-31 win at Melissa. In the process, they handed coach Billy Mack Steed his 9th straight 20-win season at the school.
Steed, who took over the PHS program in 2007-08, has compiled a record of 232 wins against 53 losses at the school, a 81.4% winning percentage. For his 21-year coaching career he is 463-171.
As for Monday’s final pre-district tuneup, the Cats jumped out to a 15-8 lead after one quarter and led by a 34-18 count at halftime. Josh Robinson was the top scorer with 16 points, Jared Embry had 14, Jalen Wallace 13, and Jordan Embry 10.
Paris opens District 15-4A Friday by hosting Liberty-Eylau in the Wildcat Gym. Both schools’ boys and girls teams will be in action. In the main gym the girls JV tips off at 4:30 followed by girls varsity at 6 and boys varsity at 7:30. The auxiliary gym will have the boys freshmen and JV games starting at 4:30.
Lincoln reserve guard Adrian Baker admires his 5th and final 3-point basket during his 19-point second quarter outburst which proved to be the big difference in the Tigers’ win over the Wildcats
For the second week in a row, the Paris Wildcats missed a golden opportunity to vault into the state’s No. 1 ranking among Class 4A boys basketball teams. The 2nd-ranked Cats fell to No. 5 Dallas Lincoln, 70-60, Saturday, in a physical game played at P. C. Cobb Fieldhouse.
Despite the loss, Paris head coach Billy Mack Steed returned with some positive vibes about his team’s outlook for the remainder of the 2015-16 season. First, and foremost, he returned with one of his mainstays, 6-5 senior Jared Embry, safely on the team bus. Embry created some anxious moments for a large contingent of Paris fans who made the trip as he flipped over a Lincoln player while leaping to block a shot. Instead, the Lincoln player drove the baseline and Embry tumbled backwards to hit the floor.
As teammates, coaches, Embry’s parents and medical staff rushed to his aid, play was stopped for several minutes before Jared finally rose to his feet and was ushered to the training room. When he left the court, there was 6:32 left in the game and Lincoln led, 56-42, but the Cats were on a 9-0 run that had trimmed a 23-point Tiger cushion.
Playing without their leading scorer (Embry had 16 points), Paris cut the Lincoln lead to 8, 61-53, with 2 minutes remaining on a Josh Robinson 3-pointer when Embry returned to the bench holding an icepack to his head. He told his coach he was ready to return to the lineup, but recently enacted concussion protocol requires otherwise. He will have to be medically cleared to participate, and his immediate status for upcoming games is unknown.
Steed was pleased that his team, even without a key cog on the floor, “never quit.” Earlier in the afternoon, the Cats were in prime position for a statement road victory when they closed out the first quarter and started the second on an 11-0 run to claim a 17-10 advantage. That’s when 5-9 senior reserve gaurd Adrian Baker took over the spotlight.
Baker exploded for 19 points in a 6-minute stretch and drained five 3-pointers to realistically bury the Cats. Baker’s final trey (pictured above) drew vocal protests from the Wildcat bench and fans who thought he should have been whistled for carrying the ball on a high bounce dribble that preceded his launch. He then spent several seconds admiring his handiwork and was joined by a teammate in a celebration hug while play continued and the Cats ironically scored on a fast break.
Nonethess, the damage had been done. One week ago, the Cats saw their 51-game regular season unbeaten streak end along with a chance to jump to the top of the coaches poll when they fell to Hot Springs in the championship game of the Paris Holiday Invitational. Their normally lethal outside shooting failed them in that game, too, and the athletic Trojans got some easy transition baskets as a result.
This time, with the No. 1 spot again on the line, it was turnovers created by the close-guarding Tigers that set the stage for the diminutive Baker, averaging 4.4 points per game, to step up big.
“We knew he could shoot the ball,” Steed said, “but we thought he was a a set-up shooter.”
The Cats made defensive adjustments, and Baker was held to a single basket in the second half to finish with 21 points. However, Lincoln’s leading scorer, 6-4 junior Kortrijk Miles, took over in the second half with 20 of his game-high 22 points to keep Paris at distance. Back-to-back 3’s by Miles gave Lincoln a 20-point separation, 47-27, with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers held their largest lead, 56-33 before a 3-pointer by Clint Franklin closed out the period. Jared’s twin brother Jordan went on a personal 6-0 run to start the final period and trim the gap to 56-42 when his brother went down with the injury.
Despite some poor foul shooting (Paris was just 7 of 18 for the game) and the loss of Jared, the Cats continued to battle and had cut the deficit to single digits, 61-53, on another Robinson 3-pointer with 2 minutes remaining when Miles had a key steal and breakaway dunk to seal the victory.
In addition to Jared’s team-high 16 points, Jordan scored 14, Robinson 13, Jalen Wallace 7, Jalon Pipkins 5, and Franklin 5 while filling in admirably for Jared. No other Wildcat saw action in the game.
The only other Tiger in double figures was 6-6 post Demarcus Randle with 10.
“They’re a good team,” Steed said about the Tigers, “but the fact we were able to stay with a good team like that makes me believe we can stay with any team we play (the rest of the season).”
Lincoln is just 11-9 for the season, but their schedule is dotted with close losses to highly ranked 5A and 6A opponents. Also, they face some stiff challenges ahead in their Dallas district that includes Carter (No. 7), Madison (No. 13), and Wilmer-Hutchins (No. 17).
If the two teams meet again, it will be at the Region 2 tournament in Commerce. Paris is an overwhelming favorite to make the trip from their East Texas quarterfinal bracket. Lincoln faces a much more daunting task from a quarterfinal bracket that also could include the likes of Triple A and Argyle.
Which made the bus ride home easier for Steed and his team after a disappointing loss. Paris (19-2) looks to officially provide Steed with his 8th straight 20-win season at the school as the Cats close out the pre-district portion of their schedule Monday at Melissa. They open District 15-4A play Friday by hosting Liberty-Eylau.
So another opportunity for No. 1 may be gone for the Cats, who will likely drop when the weekly coaches rankings are announced Monday. But the next time the window opens again it may carry the ultimate prize of a state trophy with it. That’s something Steed and the Cats can live, and work with, for now.
The Paris Ladycats soccer team returned from the Kennedale Ladykat Soccer Invitational with the runnerup trophy among a star-studded field of 12 teams, 6 of which are ranked in the regional preseason coaches rankings.
Although the tournament has a random matchup format that doesn’t include pool or bracket play, the Ladycats earned enough points from their preliminary matches on Thursday and Friday to make it into Saturday’s championship finale.
Paris started with a 1-1 tie with Class 5A North Forney. The Ladycat goal was by junior Tieren Gates off a cross from senior Monica Silva.
Friday’s game was a 10-0 rout over Lake Worth. Sophomore Estephany Balderas scored 4 of those goals, while other tallies were by sophomores Katy Hall and Emily Williams, juniors Gates and Janya Cook, and seniors Katie Chaix and Silva. Assists were recorded by Balderas, sophomore Laney Madding (2), Williams (3), Chaix, and junior Ashley Wilson.
Unfortunately, Paris had to face the defending state champion and tournament hosts in the championship match. Kennedale proved too powerful and came away with a 5-0 win, with all scoring in the first half.
The Ladycats (1-1-1) can take additional encouragement from Saturday’s 7th-place match which saw North Forney beat Princeton, the reigning District 19-4A champion. Paris will host the R. K. Hall & Kings Classic boys and girls tournament starting Thursday at Wildcat Stadium. The Ladycats open on Thursday with a 2:30 p.m. match against Crandall.
One week ago, the Paris Wildcats were on the verge of experiencing the rarified air of No. 1 status when the Hot Springs Trojans burst their balloon and a 51-game regular season unbeaten streak by beating the Cats in the finale of the Paris Holiday Invitational.
Paris (19-1), currently No. 2 in the weekly coaches ranking, is back in position to move into the state’s top spot among Class 4A basketball schools by virtue of the Cats’ 85-50 rout Tuesday at Episcopal School of Dallas coupled with a loss by current No. 1 LaMarque to Angleton.
At any rate, their next game takes on even more epic protortions when No. 2 Paris faces No. 5 Dallas Lincoln on Saturday, 2:30 p.m., at P. C. Cobb Fieldhouse. The Cats will be taking on an opponent they could very well see again in the playoffs at the Region 2 tournament in Commerce.
As for Tuesday’s pre-district road game, the Cats jumped out to a quick lead over the Eagles, who ended the first quarter on a 10-4 run to close the gap to 16-12. Paris tightened its inside defense after that and took a 34-23 halftime lead. The Cats got their running game going in the second half to blowout a team that lost by just 10 points to Wilmer-Hutchins and by 15 to Madison, a pair of state-ranked Dallas powerhouses.
Sophomore Josh Robinson scored 20 to top Paris, while senior Jalen Wallace had 19, senior Jordan Embry 18, and junior Jalon Pipkins 16. Blake Morrison scored 20 for Episcopal.
The Pleasant Grove Lady Hawks started strong and finished strong to beat the Paris Ladycats, 73-54, Friday in the District 15-4A girls basketball opener in the Wildcat Gym, but not before the young Ladycat squad managed to throw a scare into the visitors.
PG overwhelmed Paris, 21-4, after one quarter before junior Cap Johnson, a recent callup to varsity from the JV squad, sparked a second-quarter comeback with 8 of her 16 game points to trim the lead to 38-24 by halftime.
In the second half, the Johnson energy buzz continued, and freshman Keunsha Jackson joined the rally to help fuel an 11-0 Paris run to start the third quarter and pull the Ladycats within 3 points, 38-35. After the Lady Hawks finally score their first second-half bucket, a fast-break basket by junior Drea Jenkins returned the deficit to 3 again at 40-37.
Then an exhausted Johnson took a much-deserved rest on the bench. In her absence, the Lady Hawks regained their composure with a 9-0 run. By the time she returned to the court, PG was back in control and took a 56-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
Jackson topped the Ladycats in scoring with 19 points before fouling out. The Lady Hawks were led by their veteran seniors Carley Barrett and Brette Wacha, who scored 23 and 22 points, respectively.
The Ladycats, now 4-19 overall, make the long trip to Atlanta on Tuesday in their next district action before returning home on Friday, Jan. 15, to host district favorite Liberty-Eylau. The Lady Leopards routed defending champion North Lamar, 48-23, Friday and already own a blowout win over PG earlier in the season.
The Jan. 15 game will also mark the district debut of the Wildcat boys teams. All girls and boys teams are scheduled to play on the same night (with the exception of the Paris-North Lamar contests). For the first half of district play, the order of play should be JV girls, varsity girls, varsity boys in the main gym, with other sub-varsity games in the auxiliary gym.
Jalon Pipkins makes a no-look pass to Jared Embry to complete a Paris fast-break during the Cats’ surprising 12-0 start against Hot Springs in the championship game.
The Hot Springs Trojans ended the 51-game regular season win streak of the Paris Wildcats to take home the championship trophy of the sixth annual Guaranty Bank & Trust Paris Holiday Invitational Wednesday with a 53-45 decision in the Wildcat Gym. Although school is closed for the Christmas Break, the basketball classroom was in session.
The tournament’s 44th and final game of the 3-day run featured two highly-ranked teams with championship aspirations in neighboring states. The host Wildcats, now 18-1, were 3rd in the latest Texas Class 4A rankings and figured to move into position to claim the No. 1 spot with a win Wednesday after both Nos. 1 (Silsbee) and 2 (Argyle) lost on Tuesday.
Although relatively unknown in Texas, the Trojans were Arkansas Class 5A state semifinalists in 2014 and return nearly intact for 2015-16 to rate as favorites for this season’s title in a classification comparable in school size to Texas Class 4A. Hot Springs features at least three potential Division 1 recruits.
The Trojans were the talk of the tournament as they breezed through pool and bracket play the first two days. They turned back district rival Hope in an all-Arkansas semifinal, 63-55, in a game earlier Wednesday where their starters rested on the bench in the fourth quarter.
Put a set of Dallas Madison uniforms on their backs and they could be easily mistaken for the Metroplex powerhouse that has ruled Region 2 in recent years and dealt Paris its last defeat in basketball. Strangely enough, both Madison and Hot Springs share the Trojans mascot name.
Both squads were feeling the effects from playing 6 games in 3 days, and Hot Springs’ deeper bench played a factor in the outcome. Still, the Trojans provided the upstart Cats a few lessons in championship basketball, notably:
It’s a 32-minute game. Hot Springs found itself down, 0-12, before a putback by the ironically named 6-5 junior Paris Harris finally dented the scoreboard with 3:20 left in the first quarter. Despite being in a hostile enironment in front of a packed crowd, the visitors never lost their poise and consistently worked their way into the lead, 16-15, with 4:05 remaining until halftime.
When your shot’s not falling, take it to the rim. Hot Springs won despite not making a single 3-pointer. The Trojans’ outside shooting contributed to their miserable start, so they did what good teams do: Win games in the paint. They used their speed and athletic quickness to score 48 of their 53 points on a series of putbacks, layups, tip-ins, and dunks. The Cats, meanwhile, never got the message. They seldom challenged the Trojans inside and when their outside shots failed, it set the table for the Trojans’ deadly fast break. Paris shot just 33% from the field (16 of 48) and was just 7 of 25 (28%) from the 3-point line.
Oncourt communication. The Trojans are a veteran team that works well together. They talk to each other and make in-game adjustments. It’s a team game, after all.
There’s no substitute for confidence and patience. Hot Springs has it. Paris didn’t, at least not in this game, and it was painfully noticeable on several forced shots that were well off-mark. The Trojans, meanwhile, showed patience on offense and waited for an open lane to the basket.
As for the game flow itself, Paris was still in good shape after one period with a 15-6 edge, but the Cats clearly hit the wall after a rare 3-point make gave them a 15-4 advantage. They would not score again for 8-plus agonizing minutes before a Jared Embry dunk off a Clint Franklin feed finally stopped the bleeding with 1:35 left in the first half. By then, Hot Springs led, 18-17, and the Trojans closed on a 5-0 run to lead at halftime, 23-17.
The Cats emerged from the locker room with renewed energy, and a Jared Embry 5-foot baseline jumper and Jalon Pipkins 3-point play drew them within a single point at 22-23. But the Trojans didn’t falter. After a Jordan Embry putback dunk made it 26-28, Hot Springs took advantage of the Cats’ cold shooting to go on a 10-3 scoring spree before a short hook by Jordan closed the third quarter with the Trojans showing a 38-31 lead.
The Hot Springs momentum continued into the fourth quarter, and a fast break dunk by Harris extended the lead to 48-37 with 4 minutes left in the game. Paris managed to close within 48-42 on a Pipkins’ 3 and a feed to Jared Embry, but the Trojans converted 5 of 7 foul shots to cement the win and trophy.
Harris finished with a game-high 16 points, and 6-4 junior Exavian Christon scored 12 for Hot Springs. Pipkins scored 15, Jalen Wallace and Josh Robinson 9 each, Jared 8, and Jordan Embry 4 with 12 rebounds for Paris, which continues pre-district play on Tuesday with a trip to Dallas Episcopal.
While the loss hurt, it was not the season-ender like the 55-50 defeat to Madison in last season’s regional semifinals. The season is far from over, and more championships are still to be won.
The Cats return to Dallas next Saturday, Jan. 9, for another top test against 19th-ranked Lincoln. It will be a good opportunity to see if the Trojans’ lessons have been taken to heart.
Wednesday’s Other Results:
The sixth annual Guaranty Bank & Trust Paris Holiday Invitational ends another successful three-day run Wednesday with trophy hardware on the line in all three brackets. It starts at 8 a.m. with games in both Wildcat gyms and winds up with the 5 p.m. championship game.
Four teams remain in the hunt for the tournament’s top prize. At 11 a.m., Hope faces an impressive Hot Springs team in one all-Arkansas semifinal, then at 12:30 it’s a battle of Class 4A ranked teams when the No. 3 Paris Wildcats try to stay unbeaten in a matchup with No. 23 Lufkin Hudson.
The Cats, now 17-0 and winners of 50 straight regular season games, closed out a perfect Pool A showing with a lackluster 56-26 win over New Boston earlier Tuesday, then heated up the offense later that night in an 85-46 blowout of Waskom in a championship bracket quarterfinal.
Championship Bracket Quarterfinals:
Gold Bracket Semifinals:
Silver Bracket Semifinals:
Tuesday’s pool play results:
Sometimes a game can be just too big for its own good.
That was the case Monday night as the 6th annual Guaranty Bank Paris Holiday Invitational capped off Day 1 of its three-day run with a 60-51 win by the host Paris Wildcats over their regional rival Clarksville Blue Tigers in a game that exceeded capacity, if not anticipation, in the Wildcat Gym.
The Cats, 15-0 and ranked 3rd in Class 4A, and Tigers, 12-2 and ranked 5th in 2A, played before a packed house estimated to be about 2,000 rabid fans. Officials declared a sellout almost one hour prior to tipoff and closed further entry to the building.
Paris and Clarksville are grouped in Pool A of the tournament and had easy first-round wins earlier in the day. Paris routed Henderson, 82-36, while Clarksville demolished New Boston, 70-25.
Bracket play begins at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The top two finishers in each pool advance to the Championship Bracket, while 3rd-place teams compete in the Gold Bracket and 4th-place teams play in the Silver Bracket.
Paris is the tournament’s defending champion. The Cats won the 2014 title with a come-from-behind, 54-49 win over Lufkin Hudson. Other trophy winners return from the 2014 field. North Lamar won 3rd place, Red Oak (now Waxahachie) Life took consolation, Class 5A Willis was the Gold winner, and Henderson took Silver.
The tournament field includes 5 ranked teams, according to the Texas state coaches weekly poll. No. 3 Paris and Hudson (23rd) represent Class 4A, Waxahachie Life is 13th in Class 3A, while Class 2A is represented by No. 5 Clarksville and No. 16 Dallas Gateway.
Two strong entries from Arkansas also dot the field. Class 5A Hope is a regular visitor to the Paris tournament and is joined this year by state semifinalist Hot Springs.
Other notable entries include Teague (Class 2A regional finalist in 2015), and Waskom, just starting its basketball season after successfully defending its Class 3A state football championship.
Games will be held simultaneously in both the main and auxiliary gyms. Daily admission is $6, good for admission for all games in both gyms (provided seating is available). Click to see pool play and bracket pairings.
As for Monday’s marquee closer, Paris did its part early to meet the extreme expectations of a team currently riding a 48-game regular-season unbeaten break. The Cats exploited their height advantage at the guard positions to break out to a 20-9 lead after one quarter and stretched the lead to 36-14 before hitting a wall. The Tigers closed out the second quarter on a 11-3 run that included a 3-point buzzer-beater by Detravion Lewis to stay within sight at halftime, 39-25.
The shooting malaise continued for the Cats in the third period, and consecutive buckets by Keyshon Moore further trimmed the gap to 51-38 entering the final quarter. The Tigers (12-2) were able to close within 8 at 54-46 on a 3 by Rayzon Allen with just over 3 minutes remaining.
The rest of the game produced a turnoverfest for both squads with some unwise shot selection thrown in by the Cats protecting that lead. Wildcat sharp-shooter Jalon Pipkins had a dismal night from the field but produced a couple of key late assists to feed the Embry twins on a pair of breakaways that finally put the win in the books.
The game featured teams with strong inside presence, but early foul calls put a damper on that matchup. Paris 6-6 senior Jordan Embry had to sit after picking up his second foul just 2:27 into the game, but he returned to lead all scorers with 18. His twin, 6-5 Jared, performed well in his brief absence off the court and finished with 15. Pipkens managed 13, and sophomore Josh Robinson scored 12.
The Tigers’ big men also led their team in scoring despite foul issues. Junior 6-7 Clashon Gaffney and 6-5 junior Quintin Wallace each scored 11, and Moore had 9 before fouling out late in the game.
Pool Standings (after Day 1)
Quarterback Quez Allen, who finished his high school career as Paris High’s all-time leader in rushing, passing, and total yards, was the easy choice as Most Valuable Player on this year’s All-Red River Valley football team, as chosen by The Paris News. It was the second such honor for Allen, who also was named MVP during his junior campaign.
Two of Allen’s primary weapons for the 2015 season also made the First Team Offense. Junior wideout Jalon Pipkins and junior slot receiver Ja’Kerion Brown were big producers in the passing attack which set school marks for yardage and TDs scored.
A trio of Wildcats made the First Team Defense. Senior defensive end Ty Gray led the team in sacks, senior cornerback Diarva Brown was the team leader in interceptions, and junior linebacker Dre McKinney topped the team in tackles.
Second team selections were sophomore running back Donovan Williams, senior center Dakota Helm, junior kicker Zach Lamb, sophomore linebacker Quin Perry, and junior safety TD Williams.
Receiving honorable mention were senior running back Dren Rollerson, junior guard Mitchell Cole, and senior rover Zay Gray.
The 3rd-ranked Paris Wildcats (13-0) survived a tough road test Monday at Class 5A Texas High (5-4) and in the process extended their regular-season win streak to 46 games. The Cats will now break for Christmas before hosting the annual Paris Holiday Invitational Dec. 28-30 in the Wildcat Gym.
Paris used some hot shooting (59% from the field) to maintain a double-digit lead on the fast and deep Tiger squad. The Cats ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run, punctuated by a Jordan Embry dunk, to lead after the first break, 23-11. When THS trimmed the lead to 11 points in the 3rd quarter, Paris responded with a 13-0 run to put the game away.
Sophomore Josh Robinson topped the scoring with 22 points, while junior Jalon Pipkins scored 17, and senior twins Jordan and Jared Embry had 14 and 11, respectively. Senior Jalen Wallace just missed double figures with 9.
For THS, JaNiro Lane scored 20, including four 3-pointers.
The Tigers won both sub-varsity games in Tiger Center. The Cats lost the JV game, 68-52, despite 15 points by Xavier Young. The freshmen, led in scoring by T. J. Williams’ 11, fell, 69-34.
The varsity is grouped in a tournament pool with Henderson, Clarksville, and New Boston. The Cats open at 11:30 a.m. on Monday vs. Henderson and end Day 1 with a marquee match at 8:30 p.m. vs. Clarksville. Fans are urged to arrive extra early on Monday to ensure they can find seats.
The tournament features a strong field headlined by 5 ranked Texas teams: Paris (4A#3), Lufkin Hudson (4A#23), Waxahachie Life (3A#13), Clarksville (2A#5), and Dallas Gateway (2A#16). A pair of Arkansas powers, Hope and Hot Springs, will also make appearances.
Jared Embry makes sure he’s on Santa’s nice list with a breakaway dunk against Hugo
The third-ranked Paris Wildcats gave their fans an early Christmas present Friday night in a 63-38 win over the Hugo Buffaloes before a near-capacity crowd in the Wildcat Gym.
Along the way to their 12th win of the season, the unbeaten Cats knocked down a dozen 3-pointers and added a trio of dunks in a dominating performance.
They gift-wrapped the showing in a defensive package that also pleased their head coach, Billy Mack Steed, who likes to see single-digit totals in the opponent’s quarter-by-quarter columns when he checks the scorebook. Paris held the Buffaloes to a grand total of 5 points in the opening period, 7 in the second, and 3 in the third before loosening its grip and emptying the bench in a more wide-open final frame.
By then, Paris already owned command of the scoreboard, 49-15, and was well on its way to the school’s 45th straight regular season victory. The Cats’ last non-postseason loss was to North Lamar on Feb. 7, 2014. That 2013-14 team beat Liberty-Eylau to close out district play, and last year’s 2014-15 squad racked up a perfect 31-0 regular season run then beat Princeton in a warmup game before starting a postseason charge that ended in an appearance at the regional tournament.
This year’s team has picked up where last year’s squad left off with a lineup full of 3-point threats who can run the floor and finish with a flurry. They also have height, length, and quickness which can frustrate teams on the other end of the court, too.
A large contingent of Hugo fans made the short trip across the Red River to see if their team could challenge the Cats. The Buffs couldn’t, and Hugo fans showed their disenchantment with repeated pleas of “Shoot the ball” as the Hugo offense struggled to find an opening in the Paris defense.
While it wasn’t one of Paris’ brightest offensive showings, the Cats unleashed four 3-point baskets in the first quarter (by Jalen Wallace, Jordan Embry, and a pair by Jalon Pipkins) to surge to a 17-5 lead.
As Hugo tried to keep the offensive pace down in the second quarter, Paris picked the Buffs’ pockets 4 times on steals to jump-start their fast-break attack. The Cats went into the halftime break with a 27-12 edge.
They broke it open in the third quarter. Two more 3’s by Wallace and Jordan, and a breakaway dunk by Jared Embry (off a Jared block and quick Jordan outlet pass) forced a Hugo timeout. The Cats weren’t done, however, and Wallace added two more 3’s and Pipkins another one to complete the 22-3 third quarter showing.
Wallace, the Cats‘ senior point guard, finished with a game-high 15 points (all on five 3’s). Pipkins had 14 (three 3’s), and Jordan Embry 12 (two-3’s). Sophomore Josh Robinson had a 3-pointer among his 13, and Clint Franklin had one with his 5 points. Jared Embry added 4 points.
Paris has one more game before hosting the sixth annual Paris Holiday Invitational, Dec. 28-30, in the Wildcat Gym. The Cats travel to Texarkana Monday to take on the Class 5A Texas High Tigers.
The quick, athletic Tigers should provide a stern test to the unbeaten streak. The last time Paris visited Texas High, the Cats were routed, 86-60.
Jalen Wallace drains one of his five 3-pointers in the Cats’ win over Hugo
The Paris Ladycats couldn’t score down the stretch and fell to the Bonham Lady Warriors, 42-34, Friday in their final pre-district game before Christmas break.
Paris led after each period, 12-9, 22-18, and 32-31, but the Ladycats were held to 2 points in the final quarter. They fall to 4-14 for the season and resume play Dec. 28-29 at the Prosper Classic Tournament.
The Paris Wildcats moved forward a notch in the eyes of Texas basketball coaches this week, but they fell a step in the eyes of their own coach following a 66-50 win Tuesday night in Sulphur Springs.
The Cats, who went relatively unnoticed in state rankings during a 2014-15 undefeated regular season, rose from fourth to No. 3 in the latest TABC poll after picking up their second tournament title last weekend at New Boston.
Paris, now 11-0, drew some high praise from head coach Billy Mack Steed for their defensive effort in a 72-38 win over previously unbeaten Arkansas High in Saturday’s tournament championship game.
But the veteran coach is trying to instill consistency on the defensive end if the Cats hope to continue their current streak of 44 regular season wins that stretch over 3 seasons.
Their high ranking comes with a price: A bullseye target squarely on their backs. Steed believes that solid defense is the key to keeping the win streak intact.
Instead, Paris struggled Tuesday to get, then maintain, separation from the Hopkins County Wildcats (6-7). Paris was up, 20-7, after one quarter, but saw the lead trimmed to 29-21 by halftime.
The Lamar County Cats carried a 47-36 lead into the final period, but SSHS used its 3-point shooting to get within single digits before Paris finally pulled away.
“We gave them way too many open looks,” Steed said.
SSHS became just the third team to notch at least 50 points against Paris this season. Not coincidentally, the other two opponents: Mount Pleasant (58-52) and Haworth, OK (61-54) were the only times when schools have held the Cats to a single-digit margin of victory. Freshman sensation Keaston Willis knocked down six 3-pointers among his team-leading 21 points for SSHS, who also out-rebounded the taller Paris squad.
Paris was led by Jalon Pipkins with 22. Jalen Wallace hit six 3’s for his 18 points, and 6-6 post Jordan Embry finished with 16.
The schools split in sub-varsity action. The Paris freshmen won, 48-44, while the Paris JV lost, 44-36.
Paris returns to the Wildcat Gym for just the second time this season when the Cats host Hugo, OK, Friday.
Senior Quez Allen, who rewrote the school record book for passing, rushing, and total offense during his football career at Paris High, was named the District 7-4A-1 Offensive MVP, as selected by league coaches.
Dre McKinney was the only Paris player to receive first team status. The junior linebacker was the Wildcats’ leading tackler.
The Cats had several players named to the second team. The offense included sophomore running back Donovan Williams, junior receiver Jalon Pipkins, junior guard Mitchell Cole, and junior kicker Zach Lamb. Junior safety TD Williams was selected to the defense.
The Paris Ladycats varsity basketball team lost a pre-district game Tuesday at Princeton, 59-36. Freshman Kiaunsha Jackson topped the scoring for Paris with 8 points. The Ladycats, now 4-13, visit Bonham Friday before breaking for the Christmas holidays.
Defense to Offense: A tipped ball by Jared Embry is recovered by Jordan Embry as Coach Steed looks on (above). It leads to a breakaway dunk by Jared (below)
Add the name of another “J” to the “J Squad,” the 4th-ranked Paris Wildcats basketball team which features five starters whose first names all begin with that letter of the alphabet.
His name is Jekyll, the original Dr. J of Robert Louis Stevenson lore. When he makes an appearance there are nights that the 10-0 Cats seem to be on a never-ending power play with a 6-on-5 man advantage. Saturday’s finale of the New Boston Gunslingers Tournament was a case in point, as Paris pounced on the previously unbeaten Texarkana Arkansas High Razorbacks (4-1) to cruise to a 82-38 win in the trophy game.
“That may have been our best game of the year,” Paris head coach Billy Mack Steed said afterwards. “I don’t think we can play a better first half.”
He was referring to a 41-15 halftime lead which a casual fan would say was highlighted by a 5-for-5 shooting performance from 3-point land by junior Jalon Pipkins, who finished the evening with a 6th 3 among his game-high 25 points.
A casual fan might say that, but not Steed, who preaches defense first and forever, and that brings up Dr. Jekyll’s split persona, Mr. Edward Hyde, who surfaced during Friday’s 61-54 semifinal squeaker over Haworth, OK. As jubilant as Steed was over Saturday’s performance and an equally impressive 85-43 win over an athletic Idabel, OK, in Thursday’s tournament opener, the veteran Paris coach was distraught over some defensive lapses which enabled Haworth to climb back into the Friday game after Paris took a 27-13 halftime lead.
“We played as well tonight as we played poorly on Friday,” he said. “We played some great help-side defense (Saturday) and didn’t allow many open looks,” he said. “People don’t realize we can play pretty good defense.”
While the Cats are noted for their deadly outside shooting and acrobatic dunks, it’s their defense that sets the pace. Only two Paris opponents have cracked the 50-point scoring barrier so far in the 2015-16 season.
Coincidentally, both defensive anomalies happened this past week, starting with Tuesday’s 58-52 nail-biter at Mount Pleasant, then resurfacing on Friday vs. Haworth.
When they can keep Mr. Hyde under wraps, the Cats are pretty impressive on the offensive end as well. All five “Js” scored in double figures in the championship game. In addition to Pipkins’ 25, Jared Embry had 13, while Jordan Embry, Jalen Wallace, and Josh Robinson each netted 10. Pipkins and the Embry twins were selected to the all-tournament team.
How lopsided was the championship game? Consider that the biggest applause from a large contingent of Hog fans in the tiny, packed gym came on a hard foul that prevented a alley-oop slam by Jared Embry. They didn’t have much else to cheer, as no Arkansas player reached double figures in scoring.
Paris survived a second-half scare from recent nemesis Haworth to win Friday’s semifinal, while Arkansas used a 14-0 start to breeze past Texarkana rival Pleasant Grove, 57-40, in the other semifinal.
Haworth knocked off Paris in the 2012 Gunslingers tournament, 48-37, and again in 2013, 62-59, before the Cats turned the tables on the Lions last year, 63-49.
Jared Embry topped the scoring with 18 points, and Pipkins notched 17. Robinson was the only other Cat in double figures at 12.
In the tournament opener on Thursday, Paris bounced back from Tuesday’s scare on a horrible shooting night at Mount Pleasant to destroy Idabel. The Warriors jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Cats were in front, 20-12, at the first break and 41-19 by halftime. Paris put on a crowd-pleasing show with 12 dunks and nine 3-pointers.
Robinson had three of the 3’s to lead the scoring with 24 points. Jared Embry scored 18 including a monster breakaway dunk (play video below to see dunk), Jordan scored 10, and Pipkins had 13.
Paris tries to extend its current streak of 42 regular-season victories when the Cats visit Sulphur Springs on Tuesday before a rare home game on Friday vs. Hugo, OK. The last Paris regular season defeat was a 57-47 loss to North Lamar on Feb. 7, 2014, two seasons ago. The Cats finished with a perfect 31-0 mark last year en route to a regional semifinal appearance.
The state-ranked Paris Wildcats found themselves in an unfamiliar position in a uncomfortable environment Tuesday. So they turned to a trusted ally to pull out a 58-52 win over the Mount Pleasant Tigers just one day after being promoted to No. 4 in the state basketball coaches’ rankings.
“I tell the players that there will be nights when their shots won’t fall,” Paris head coach Billy Mack Steed said earlier this year, “but they can always count on defense being there.
“If you don’t play defense, you won’t play for me.”
The Cats (7-0), fresh off a dominating run to win the Van DQ Invitational, had not been seriously challenged this young season until Tuesday night. Their closest margin of victory had been 24 points.
However, the Class 5A Tigers (4-2), took advantage of a miserable shooting night by Paris to take a 29-25 halftime lead. MP scored the first 4 points of the second half to stretch the advantage to 8, 33-25, before Paris finished the third quarter on a 15-4 spurt to surge ahead, 40-37, heading into the final period.
True to Steed’s formula, it was defense that keyed the rally. The Cats’ perimeter pressure forced several steals and turnovers and facilitated the deadly Paris fast-break game. Meanwhile, Paris clamped down in the paint and limited the Tigers’ second-chance opportunities which prevailed in the first half.
A lucky backboard bounce-back 3 by 6-4 Holden Davis enabled the Tigers to tie the game, 40-40, as the fourth quarter started, but the Cats responded with a key 7-0 stretch to retake control.
The run started with a steal and breakaway basket by junior Jalon Pipkins, then senior point guard Jalen Wallace knocked down a 3 from the right corner. Another Pipkins fast-break layup off a feed from Wallace gave Paris a 47-40 lead with 5:45 remaining.
However, Steed had to deal with foul issues down the stretch. Wallace picked up his fourth personal on a charge and joined 6-6 senior post Jordan Embry on the bench. Embry collected his fourth personal (3 on charges) earlier in the period.
With the two starters out of the game, the Tigers trimmed the lead to 47-45. A foul shot by reserve Clint Franklin and a 15-foot, step-back jumper by Pipkins built the lead back to 50-45. When Wallace and Jordan Embry returned to the court with 3:14 left, 6-5 Jared Embry converted a baseline drive to push the lead back to 7, 52-45.
Full-court pressure by the deeper Tiger squad caused some anxious moments for the Cats, but a floater by sophomore Josh Robinson and another baseline drive and dunk by Jared off an alley-oop feed from bother Jordan sent the gap back to 7, 56-49 heading into the final minute.
Wallace fouled out with 53.3 left as MP kept the pressure dialed up, but a pair of free throws by Robinson with 10.6 to go provided the final margin of victory.
Pipkins led the Cats with 17 points, including 11 in the second half. Wallace, whose outside shooting kept Paris in the game in the first half, finished with 14. Jared Embry managed 11, and Robinson 9 (all after halftime).
The Tigers’ 6-5 junior post James Moore scored 16 to lead the Tigers.
“I don’t know what it is about this place, but we can’t shoot the ball here,” Steed said afterwards.
Recent history verifies his claim that Tiger Gym is a voodoo palace to the Cats. Prior to Tuesday, Paris had lost its last four visits to MP which were low-scoring games with some bizarre finishes:
The win extended Paris’ regular season victory streak to 41 over the past 3 seasons. The Cats are back in action Thursday at the annual New Boston Gunslingers Classic. They open with a 2 p.m. tipoff vs. Idabel, OK.
Paris won Tuesday’s JV match at MP, 53-37.
Each month Paris High staff recognizes a student who goes above and beyond the norm of student expectations to help make the school a better place for learning. The December-January winner is Montana Lovell. See monthly winners on our Students of the Month page.
Paris High juniors (from left) Jeremy Seals, Evelyn Brown, Ansley Downs, and Alyssa Tacuyan have been selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp. Read more.
Recently, senior Graham Bain earned fourth place while competing in the the Mount Pleasant UIL Current Events competition. Graham's coach is social studies teacher Tracy Roden.
Playoff Basketball. The Paris Wildcats open the Class 4A boys basketball playoffs with a bi-district match vs. the Mabank Panthers Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., at Greenville High School.