By Brian Besch
The Big Sandy Wildcats left Kirbyville Monday night with the promise of another game, after holding on to beat Shelbyville 55-53 in the bi-district round of the UIL playoffs.
Down for much of the first half, the pace of the game appeared too quick in for the 'Cats in the opening period. Down 19-12 after the opening eight minutes, they settled in and took better care of the ball.
"Obviously, we got off to a shaky start and the pressure hurt us especially," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. "I don't know if it was playoff jitters or what. (Shelbyville is) real athletic, but I felt like if we could ever really settle down, we would be OK. Right before the half, we took the lead, but we had a few mistakes that weren't real smart on our part."
With 2:18 to go in the second quarter, Big Sandy pulled ahead at 26-25. The Dragons ended the half with a few buckets to go back up, 31-28.
"Every team out there is in the same boat," Foster said. "We haven't played in nine days. We practiced a little bit last week. Their district was very tough and there are a lot of good teams in it. That helps a team like them coming in."
A turning point in the contest was a six-point swing, as Adrian Thompson hit a shot under the hoop and received two technical shots after he was shoved to the floor. The Wildcats inbounded after and Thompson hit a jumper in the lane.
The Dragons were held to eight points in the third and fourth quarters. Big Sandy forced Shelbyville to settle for many outside shots over the final three periods, outscoring the Dragons in each.
"They stretched it out again and we just kept telling the kids to chip away at it the best you can," the Wildcat coach said. "We didn't do great down the stretch, but we did just enough and made just enough free throws. We turned it over too much and they made some big shots late."
Seth Beene-Williams led with 15 points, Kaden Foster scored 14 and Thompson had 13. Brayden Hand led the Dragons with a dozen and Jakivian Calhoun had 10.
Big Sandy moves on to challenge the victor of the Mount Union/Woden contest. Foster believes his team's next game will occur Thursday.
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