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Green’s three pushes Lions past Panthers

Lion basketball coach Jerry Mason would be the first to say most of the big shots in his team’s games this year have been made by opponents.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday night in Midlothian, however. With five seconds left, Jordan Mason passed out of a double team to hit Derrick Green in the corner and the senior let it fly. His clutch three-pointer vaulted Ennis (4-18, 2-4) into a 44-42 lead and a Panther three-point attempt at the buzzer clanged off the iron for a thrilling Lion road win.
“That was a big-time shot from Derrick and I’m glad Jordan didn’t force it himself,” the coach said.
“We play better on the road for whatever reason. We hung around and hit big shots at the end; I thank God for this win because I know how hard the guys work and they deserve it.”
Jordan Mason had his jumper going in the second half as he finished with 22 points, two rebounds and two steals. Other top contributors for the Lions included Green (8 points, steal), Xavier Tarrant (6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block) and J.T. Florence (1 point, 11 rebounds, assist, 3 steals).
“It felt really good to know we could play great defense at the end and pull out a big win,” Green said.
In a pleasant change of events, Ennis delivered one of its best first quarters this season to jump out to a 13-8 lead. A Green corner three gave Ennis its first lead at 3-2, as Derrick also knocked down a pair of free throws and snagged a steal.
Tarrant raced out of the gate as well with four points, two rebounds, a steal, a block and an assist to Kyle Anderson for a layup. With an obvious quickness advantage, the Lions were stealing post feeds and pressuring the Panthers into some traveling violations.
“Xavier wanted to come out with a good game tonight and Derrick got himself off to a good start,” Mason said.
“I did some good things early and had confidence in my shot tonight,” Green added.
“As a team, we started fast out there.”
It proved to be huge for the Lions to start so well, because the second quarter was the toughest for Ennis by far. After Tarrant found Mason for a lay-in and a seven-point lead, the Panthers went on a 14-0 run that included two three-pointers and four inside baskets (3 putbacks) from 6’4” post Eddie Johnson – who scored 17 on the night. Anderson scored inside off a Jay Radway pass late and Mason hit two free throws after being fouled at the buzzer to pull Ennis within 19-23.
“The second-chance points were what killed us during their run,” Mason said.
“We had a tough time with [Johnson] and didn’t block out as well as we needed to. In the first half, 14 of their points came from putbacks.
“We needed those free throws from Jordan to close the gap after a rough quarter. I told the guys at halftime if we kept pushing, [Midlothian] would get tired and their shots wouldn’t fall.”
The Lions didn’t light it up in the third quarter, but they did corral the Panther offense to hang tight (29-31). Mason began his second-half surge with nine of Ennis’ 10 points in the frame – opening with a driving runner and capping off the quarter with a corner three off a Florence assist. Ennis tallied five steals in the quarter with two apiece from Florence and Mason.
Not a large player by any means, Florence pulled down four rebounds in the third on his way to 11 for the night as he also expended energy battling Johnson in the post.
“J.T. put in a yeoman’s effort with rebounding, steals and hustle plays, plus he still had his legs at the end,” Mason said.
“I’m glad he’s a part of my team. Jordan stayed with it and hit a lot of shots in the second half to keep us in it. I’d rather him finish strong than start fast.”
“Jordan has been a key factor for us – putting up astronomical numbers every game and he’s becoming a good team leader,” Green added.
Heading to the fourth, Ennis picked a fine time to have its best offensive quarter. In spite of Green taking a charge, the Panthers came out on a 7-0 run to lead by nine as Johnson completed an and-one play. Ennis quickly got five back as Mason attacked and hit his free throws while Radway followed with a wing three.
Midlothian was no longer able to coast off Johnson’s inside scoring down the stretch and the momentum of the game began to turn. Mason showed why he’s a 20-point scorer as a freshman, drilling a pair of huge threes – including one on the heels of a Florence steal with 70 seconds remaining – to put the Lions up by one.
Johnson managed to make an impact one more time with a putback to give the Panthers a one-point lead and then Midlothian came down with the rebound after a missed Mason jumper. Fortunately, Radway tracked down a long pass out of a Panther timeout for his fourth steal of the night to give Ennis another chance with 19 seconds left.
“We had to find a way to keep the big man from getting putbacks and at least we slowed him down toward the end,” Green said.
“We got some big-time steals from J.T. and Jay to give us a chance.”
Everybody in the building was looking for another Mason jumper to decide the game, but with Panthers all over him and mere seconds remaining, Jordan dished off to Green in the corner. Derrick ripped the net as Lion fans roared and the Panthers weren’t so fortunate with their hoist at the buzzer.
“Jordan found me in the corner and I put up a three for the win,” Green said.
“That’s a big-time shot I’ll always remember, but hopefully for the team it helps us work toward the playoffs.”
Ennis will now host Waco University on Friday at 8 p.m. University fell behind Cleburne 18-6 after the first quarter on Tuesday in a 51-42 loss.
“Missed threes have cost us in a lot of games, so it’s great to win because of making one,” Mason said.
“The guys on the bench were upbeat and cheering the other guys on; it was a total team effort. We have to block out and make University guard us so that maybe we can tire their big boys out.”

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Posted by on Jan 21 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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