A dunk changed the tone of a Friday, Feb. 7 game between the Wharton Tigers and the El Campo Ricebirds at Wharton High School.
Playing above the rim isn't part of the Ricebirds game plan, however, junior post Reagan Spenrath mid-first quarter threw down a dunk. Spenrath's display of athleticism was met by WHS players several times over and the Ricebirds were quickly overwhelmed by the Runnin’ Tigers speed and size the rest of the way, losing 64-36.
Wharton's win keeps it in fourth place in District 25-4A, while El Campo’s winning feeling over Sealy earlier in the week was cut short.
The Runnin’ Tigers’ defense forced El Campo into early turnovers and took an early lead. El Campo slowly started to get back into the game with a couple of put backs off offensive rebounds. Trailing 13-8, Spenrath slammed down a two-handed dunk and received a technical for hanging on the rim too long.
The gym and both benches erupted in gasps and shock at Spenrath's dunk.
While the Ricebirds bench stirred, cheering Spenrath's slam, so did Wharton's team.
Defensively Wharton started pressing El Campo hard, forcing many turnovers and Runnin’ Tiger fast-break dunks and layups. The intensity remained throughout the first half as the Runnin’ Tigers took a 41-15 lead into the locker room.
“It was a big spark,” Runnin’ Tigers junior guard James Jones said. “Our energy was down at first but after that dunk, we turned our energy up.”
Both teams out of the locker room struggled, but El Campo wasn't able to get anything going until the fourth quarter making a couple of treys to keep them within 30 points.
Senior Runnin’ Tigers guard Joerell Davis led all scorers with 17 points.
El Campo sophomore Trinceton Foley and Spenrath both finished with 11 points.
Only one loss separates Wharton from the third and second-place teams in district with three games left to play.
El Campo with the loss was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.