Leaving El Campo Middle School’s gym with a loss was something neither the Palacios Sharks nor the East Bernard Brahmas wanted on Friday, Feb. 21.
Both teams down the stretch traded big shot after big shot with the third and fourth seeds up for grabs. A three from Sharks forward Slone Greaves in overtime ended East Bernard's hopes of a third seed as it fell, 72-69.
With the loss, the Brahmas playoff matchup was set and they'll meet the Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans, Tuesday night in Navasota at 6:30 p.m.
The Brahmas won't have a lot of time to plan and scheme for their bi-district matchup with Coldspring-Oakhurst. However, Friday's game with Palacios was as close to simulating a playoff atmosphere as you can get. They might not have gotten to work on X's and O's, but they did get to play in pressure-packed situations.
Shining for East Bernard in El Campo was senior guard Tanner Baggett who scored a game-high 31 points. Baggett was locked in all game hitting three's lay-ups, bank shots, floaters and he went four-four at the line.
"Tanner played really, really well," East Bernard Coach Jerry Brantly said. "He was shooting the ball well, running the offense and he did a great job. Probably his best game of the year, hopefully, he'll have another one Tuesday night."
East Bernard had a lead as big as 10-points and led the Sharks for the majority of the game. The Sharks never went away and stayed close. The Sharks defense picked up late in the fourth quarter and started to give East Bernard problems.
In regulation, East Bernard led 65-60 with under a minute left in the game.
The Sharks cut into the lead on a put-back after a blown layup. Still leading by three points and the Sharks in foul mode to get the ball back, East Bernard just needed to make free-throws to lock up the win. Back-to-back misses on one-in-one's gave the Sharks back the ball, and they sank a three sending the game into overtime.
The Brahmas energy was high in overtime, but the Sharks executed a little bit better down the stretch and with another three with time running down they escaped with the win.
"We kept responding," Brantley said. "They'd get a few baskets and we'd respond and come back. The kids played hard, they really did. They hit the shot at the end to win it, someone had to hit that shot and it was them."
East Bernard's opponent on Tuesday won't be easy. Coldspring-Oakhurst has 30 plus wins on the season and is ranked as the fourth-best team in the state according to the Texas Basketball Coaches Association.