As of Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The momentum pendulum was swinging from the red side to the white side when, early in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game between Victoria West and Victoria East, two possessions changed everything.
East led 35-33 with 6:25 remaining when the Warriors (14-13, 4-3) tried to slow things down, seeking a high-percentage shot to tie the game.
Instead, East forced turnovers on consecutive possessions.
Buckets from seniors Jalen Wilson and Xavier Ellis allowed the Titans to breathe easier, as the Titans held on for a 47-40 victory.
"We didn't handle pressure at crucial times," said West head coach Pat Erskine. "We turned it over at times we needed to be calm. You have to give them credit, they outrebounded us."
Once Wilson dispossessed of West guard James Murphy and sprinted for a layup with 6:01 remaining, West was never within a bucket of the Titans.
"He forced a lot of turnovers and he took care of the ball," said East senior Christian Herring about Wilson. "We had fewer turnovers than we've had in a lot of games. They pressed us a lot so we did well with the turnovers. Jalen kept us in there, he's our point guard."
Ellis, Trevon Ramey and Justin Shaw were too big for the Warriors to matchup solely with post Darien Henry.
Ramey led East (13-13, 3-4) with 11 points, while Ellis's bucket with 5:19 remaining helped the momentum remain with the visitors in red.
The absence of West forward Chris Erskine was big for both teams.
East head coach John Grammer said one of his team's strengths is post play. Tuesday the Titans were able to make the most of their advantage.
"He was really the one they had trouble matching up with," Grammer said about Ramey. "They matched Darien Henry with (Ellis) and they really didn't have anyone his size to match-up with. He was the X factor in this case because of matchups.
"I don't know if he was doing anything special. I think he was taller and more experienced."
East's win, as well as Tuloso-Midway's 55-46 win over Calallen, has reverberations throughout the district. Calallen (5-2), West, T-M (4-3) and East are all within two games of each other. Beeville is 2-4 in District 30-4A play, but the Trojans will play East Friday night in Victoria.
East never trailed Tuesday. West tied it thrice, but the Titans always had a response.
With the crowd at Victoria West rowdy and raucous heading into halftime, Herring sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 2 seconds left in the first half - in front of the West bench and students - to give the Titans a 24-20 lead at intermission.
"It was a big part of it. I wasn't making any shots," Herring said. "I hit one big shot at the end of the half and it gave us momentum to play hard.
"Everyone was playing slow. It sped us up a little bit."
Wilson's floater with 20 seconds left in the third quarter ignited East, just like Herring's basket a quarter earlier allowed the Titans to bounce into the locker room with momentum.
Henry wound up with 13 points while freshmen Ruben Trevino led all scorers with 15 points.
But, it wasn't enough for the Warriors, who would have moved into a tie for second in the district with a win.
"We knew they were going to come out hungry because we beat them last time," said Marshall, who scored six points for the Warriors. "Coach (Erskine) said it was going to be a battle. We came out hard, but they were hungry."