WEST – Often in the playoffs, the margin of victory is the length of a fingernail.
Midway’s boys scratched and clawed, but came away feeling like they let one slip through their grasp.
Duncanville led less than a minute of total time, but it proved to be the most critical juncture of the game. Midway freshman Anthony Scott drew a foul as time expired with his team down two points, but missed the first foul shot, rendering the second academic and allowing Duncanville to escape with a 55-53 win in the Class 6A bi-district playoffs at the sparkling West High School gymnasium.
Duncanville (25-7) advances to face the Denton Guyer-Euless Trinity winner in the area round, while Midway closes a fantastic first season under head coach Brad Chasteen at 26-7.
Chasteen was proud of the way his team fought, but lamented the turnovers and missed foul shots that helped fuel Duncanville’s rally.
“We had a great season. There’s nothing I can say to make them feel better,” said Chasteen, outside Midway’s locker room following the defeat. “We had the game. No offense to Duncanville, but we gave it away. They know it. You can’t get it back. But I’m super proud of their effort. The last 31/2 to 4 months, they’ve done everything I’ve asked to the best of their ability. It’s a bummer that it’s over.”
Duncanville hit the first shot of the game, a 3-pointer from Miles McDougal, which was quickly answered from Midway’s Xavier Armstead. Midway held the lead the vast majority of the game thereafter, but Duncanville stormed back with some dead-eye 3-point shooting.
Duncanville took its first lead since early in the first quarter with 25.6 seconds to play when Jakobi Pearson dropped in a pair of free throws following an over-the-back foul from Midway’s Malachi Barron as he swooped in for an offensive rebound attempt. That gave Duncanville a 55-53 lead.
Midway looked to answer, then used its final timeout with 10 seconds left. A deflected pass sent the ball bouncing into the backcourt, where the speedy Scott tracked it down, eluded a defender with a crossover, then drew a foul as the buzzer sounded.
But he missed the initial free throw, and the referees called the game at that point, since a second shot wouldn’t have mattered with no time on the clock.
Free throws proved to be a killer for Midway, which hit 59 percent (13-of-22) for the game and just 42.9 percent (6-of-14) in the fourth quarter.
Despite the defeat, Midway played its guts out, led by seniors Xavier Armstead and Bubba Furlong. Armstead scored a team-high 18 points in his final game, and made a number of heady plays. Furlong was a beast as Midway’s last line of defense, blocking nine shots to go with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Chasteen said Furlong’s presence made Duncanville change its approach when going to the rim.
“He did a great job. They couldn’t score at the rim,” Chasteen said. “That’s what they do well. Rim protection was great.”
Midway imposed its will on Duncanville in the opening quarter, controlling the game on both ends. Furlong swatted away a couple of early Duncanville attempts in the paint, giving the visitors reason for pause any time they ventured into the paint thereafter.
Furlong and Armstead knocked down 3-pointers for Midway’s first buckets of the game, and later Armstead wowed the Midway fans when he ripped the ball out of a Duncanville guard’s hands, then sprinted downcourt for a runaway dunk.
Midway also executed a perfect end-of-quarter play to score, with Barron (13 points) dropping in a reverse layup on a sharp baseline cut to the hoop just before the buzzer. That basket gave Midway an 18-6 lead after a quarter.
However, Duncanville installed a roadblock to any potential Midway blowout in the second quarter. The game devolved into a physical bangfest, and Midway occasionally grew careless with its possession of the ball.
Moreover, Duncanville started torching the nets from outside. Duncanville guard Dexter Johnson banged down four second-half 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 19 points, and the visiting Panthers also received two more treys from Erik Talton and one from McDougal.
That helped Duncanville cut Midway’s lead to five points by halftime. Midway stretched the lead back to 11 in the third quarter following a post move from Barron, but Duncanville fought back and tied the game at 50 in the fourth quarter on a Johnson trey.
“Defensively, we did a great job overall,” Chasteen said. “The turnovers must’ve been 26 or 27, something like that."