The Pampa High boys opened the second half of District 4-4A play in a fashion bound and determined to do the opposite from what they did in the first half Wednesday night at McNeely Fieldhouse.
Facing a tall obstacle in No. 23 Hereford, the Harvesters looked more like the team deserving of a ranking. They held off Hereford almost the entire way, but it took a free throw by Julian Alonzo with six seconds left following a bizarre turn of events to beat the Whitefaces 54-53.
Despite the close outcome, Pampa High (15-11, 2-6 in district) never trailed in the game and was only tied twice, that coming in the final 90 seconds. The Harvesters held off every blow Hereford (18-6, 4-4) had to deliver.
“That showed a lot of heart from our team,” PHS coach Brayden Barker said. “We had the two point lead twice and Hereford came back and tied it up. It’s a very big win for us.”
With 6.8 seconds remaining in regulation, things were literally hanging in the balance. Pampa High sophomore Julian Alonzo rebounded his own miss with the score tied at 53-53 and put the ball back up.
The shot bounced on the back of the rim but settled on the bracket connecting the hoop and the backboard without going into or out of the basket, resulting in a dead ball and a stopped clock.
That would have resulted in a jump ball or alternate possession situation under normal circumstances, but Alonzo was fouled on the play. He made the first free throw for a 54-53 lead.
The Whitefaces rebounded Alonzo’s second missed free throw and called timeout with a chance to score and win the game. However, Tyi Duque’s last-second shot in the lane missed, allowing the Harvesters to escape with the win.
That wild final sequence seemed to reflect the mentality for the game for PHS, as the team’s jerseys are emblazoned with the words “Hustlin’ Harvesters.”
“Dumas came in here and blew us out a couple of weeks ago and since then we’ve really shown a lot more effort, heart and fight, and that’s what I’m really proud of,” Barker said.
The Harvesters twice led by 12 points, once in the second quarter and once in the third quarter, but Hereford kept up the pressure. With over a minute left, Duque hit a jumper to tie the game at 50-50.
Huston Skinner answered for the Harvesters with a 3-pointer to make it 53-50. It’s appropriate that Skinner gave them their penultimate lead, as he finished with a game-high 25 points and hit five 3-pointers.
“This is his third year on varsity so he’s our team leader,” Barker said of Skinner. “For him to show up tonight and knock down a bunch of shots is really big for us.”
Hereford answered back, though, as Kenyon Loftis tied it with a 3-pointer of his own, setting the stage for the wild final sequence.
Alonzo had 13 points for Pampa High. Loftis led Hereford with 14 points, all in the second half. Duque had 13 and Jadyn Fletcher added 12.
Hereford 13 27 36 53
Pampa 18 31 43 54
H – Kenyon Loftis 14, Tyi Duque 13, Jadyn Fletcher 12. P – Huston Skinner 25, Julian Alonzo 13. Records: Hereford 18-6, 4-4. Pampa 15-11, 2-6.
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