• Centennial’s K.J. Walker puts up a shot during a game earler this season. The Spartans lost to Waxahachie in a playoff game Tuesday night. BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

Spartans lose to Waxahachie

MANSFIELD — Centennial boys basketball Jeff Carroll knew what his Spartans were facing heading into their Tuesday night playoff meeting with Waxahachie.

The Indians, the top-ranked Class 5A team in the state in the most recent Texas Associaton of Basketball Coaches poll, scored 35 first-quarter points on the way to a 90-33 win in a Region II bi-district playoff game at Mansfield Lake Ridge.

“It’s tough when you play someone that good,” Carroll said. “Our guys came out a little bit behind and once you come out a little bit behind, you struggle against a team that’s that good. [Waxahachie] got confident and it got tough.”

The loss halted the Spartans season at 16-14.

Things started off slow for the Spartans after only scoring five in the first quarter. Junior K.J. Walker had the first basket for the Spartans on a layup early. Junior Anthony Hunter added a three-pointer only a minute later.

By the end of the quarter, Waxahachie (28-4) had built a 35-5 lead.

Walker scored again in the first minute of the second quarter on an easy shot within the arch to give them two more. Later in the second quarter, DaQuan Campbell appeared to score on a layup but was called for a foul. London Savala would make up for it though with a corner three to give the Spartans 10 points in the first half.

“I told them just to compete,” Carroll said about his halftime message to the team. “I told them to fight every single possession. That’s what we try to teach every game no matter what the score is.”

The second half started much like the first as the Spartans struggled to get momentum. Hunter scored Centennial’s first points of the second half on a three-pointer. Campbell then sank one from the lane followed by two quick scores from Walker.

Hunter finished the game with nine points and Walker added eight points.

Ten seconds into the fourth quarter Zach Bolf hit a pair of free throws to get the Spartans to 20 points. Bolf, who finished with seven points, was fouled again just moments later and again sank one of the two free throws.

The Spartans tried to get a late rally going but top-ranked Waxahachie was just too much.

“Our kids have played hard the whole season,” Carroll said. “It’s a testament to our seniors and the leadership they have. It’s a testament to traditional Spartan basketball, going to the playoffs five straight years. It sets an expectation of fighting and toughness. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Waxahachie’s Mar’Qualen Grant led all scorers with 23 points. Montre’ Gipson scored 16 points and Larry Wise finished with 11 points.

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