Midway Belton ra4

Midway’s Bubba Furlong (right) is defended by Belton’s Kiron Griffin Jr. (left) during the Panthers’ victory on Friday night. Midway stays undefeated in District 8-6A with the win.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte

If every quarter of a basketball game is its own one-act play, then Midway didn’t exactly bring the house down in the final act.

The 12th-ranked Midway boys basketball team captivated its audience at the start, displaying some vigorous defense and accurate shooting. Ultimately, the Panthers needed that sizzling opening act as they held off Belton, 69-63, an outcome that felt far too close for comfort for first-year Midway coach Brad Chasteen.

“No offense to Belton, and it’s got nothing to do with their team, but that’s embarrassing how we finished that game in every form and fashion,” Chasteen said. “We lost guys defensively, couldn’t make free throws, made bad decisions. You’ve got to play 32 minutes, especially in this district.”

The last district championship banner Midway has hanging from its roof belonged to the 2004-05 Panthers. At the outset, Midway (19-2 overall, 3-0 in District 8-6A) looked like a team determined to add some more fabric to the rafters. Slicing off passing lanes and igniting a high-octane running game, Midway busted out to a 27-9 lead after one quarter, with Chasteen yelling, “Go, go, go!” every time the Panthers got the ball.

Senior guard R.J. Jackson stood out as a frequent scene-stealer in the first half for Midway. Jackson dropped in a pair of 3-point bombs in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game, and later brought the crowd to its feet when he shook a defender to the floor before nailing a step-back jumper.

Jackson scored a team-high 20 points for Midway, all in the first half.

But he hit a lull after the intermission, and he wasn’t alone. Belton (8-14, 0-3) rode the energetic inside play of junior forward Dontori Lott (23 points) to a 12-5 run to open the second half. Following a timeout, Midway seemed to find its footing again, responding with a 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer and a driving runner in traffic from senior Xavier Armstead.

However, the recovery was brief for the Panthers. In the fourth quarter, they missed several bunnies at the rim and shot a paltry 3-of-10 from the foul line. The Tigers capitalized, and when Jarian Kerley bottomed out his fourth trey of the game with 18.9 seconds to play, Belton cut the gap to four points at 67-63.

Fortunately for the Panthers, they were able to survive. Armstead knocked down a pair of big free throws with 15 seconds to go, and Belton couldn’t get a good look at the rim on the ensuing trip downcourt.

That said, Chasteen said that Midway played a “dangerous” game with what he deemed a lack of effort and movement in the second half.

“If we have a meltdown like that against Shoemaker (on Tuesday), it’s a 26-4 run. So obviously you can’t do that,” the coach said. “You’ve got to keep playing. I thought we stood around coming out the start of the second half, and that didn’t show much character.”

Armstead, who fits in seamlessly with both Midway’s starting five and its reserve unit, finished with 15 points for the Panthers. Sam Houston State-bound senior post Bubba Furlong also tallied 15 points. Furlong’s keen passing out of the post, whether kick-out feeds to open shooters or little flips to diving cutters, helped Midway build a 21-point halftime cushion.

“He had some assists under the basket, some nice kickouts,” Chasteen said. “Honestly, he’s a bit too unselfish. We’d like to see him power the ball in more. But he played solid.”

Kerley and Carson Hammond scored 12 points each for Belton, combining for seven buckets from 3-point land.

Midway will host Shoemaker (13-7, 2-1) on Tuesday.

GIRLS

No. 8 Gatesville 56, Hillsboro 13

HILLSBORO — Allaria Jones put up her second game of 20 or more points this week, and the Lady Hornets rolled to another big win.

Jones, who scored 25 on Tuesday against Connally, swished for 20 against the Lady Eagles on Friday, and she combined to score more points this week (45) than those two entire teams produced (40).

Alayna Washington chipped in 11 points for Gatesville, which improved to 25-1 overall and 5-1 in District 17-4A.

China Spring 51, Connally 32

Gabrielle Cleveland and Abbie Snyder dropped in 12 points apiece, and the Lady Cougars thwarted the Lady Cadets to even up their district record.

China Spring (11-9, 2-2) also received eight points from Taylor Webb.

Sophomore Aliyah McKoy topped Connally (16-12, 1-3) with 15 points.

La Vega 52, Robinson 45

Ta’Naiya Norwood hit for 15 points to help the Lady Pirates grind out a district win over the Rockettes.

Ronadre Kendricks added nine points for La Vega (3-1 in District 17-4A). For Robinson (13-5, 0-4), senior Mallory McNew scored 16 points and Caitly Davis added 13.

McGregor 79, Troy 49

McGREGOR — Mary Graves paced three players in double figures as the hot-shooting and district-leading Lady Bulldogs dispatched the Lady Trojans.

Graves poured in 25 points, and she was complemented by Alli Ainsworth (18 points) and Kylie Smith (17). McGregor moves to 12-6 overall and 4-0 in District 19-3A.

Maegan Payne scored 14 for Troy.

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