Sports By Readers
McKinney Evans Middle School 7th Grade Basketball captures its first district title
The Panthers celebrate their first basketball district championship
By John Mathey
The McKinney Evans Panthers 7th grade basketball team captured its first district title by outlasting the Highland Park Raiders, 42-37 on Saturday at Scott Johnson Middle School .
To truly understand what this game meant to the Panthers, we need to go back to the first game of the season, in which the Raiders defeated and demoralized a very disorganized Panthers team 45-13 at Highland Park Middle School. The Panthers regrouped and won 6 of their next 7 games including capturing the mid-season Invitational Tournament crown, in which Highland Park did not participate.
Evans would not face Highland Park again until Jan. 28 at Evans Middle School, dropping a close match to the visiting Raiders, 53-48. Evans closed out the regular season with convincing victories over Scott Johnson and Faubion.
To reach the title game in the one day district tournament, the Panthers beat a very overmatched Scott Johnson Tigers team by a sizeable margin, and later on, defeated a spirited Faubion Lions club, 40-30.
In the title game, the undefeated Raiders were stunned early on by an aggressive Panthers team who jumped out to an early 16-6 lead in the first quarter, leading by as many as 18 in the first half. Highland Park clamped down and got back into the game by cutting the lead to 10 by halftime, 27-17. An aggressive defense and press helped the Raiders climb back into the game in the second half, even taking the lead briefly 32-31 at the end of the third quarter. The Evans' tenacious defense bottled up the larger Raider offense in the 4th quarter, not giving them any easy shots and very few second chance shots, leaving Highland Park with no choice but to foul the Panthers to try to close the gap. The Panthers converted their free throws and left the Raiders attempting desperation three pointers down the stretch before holding on to win 42-37.
This was a great victory for not only the school, but the players, coaches and parents were part of something very special and a game and a season to be remembered for years to come.
The Panthers are comprised of 8 players: Braylon Cyrus, Chris Mathey, Dominic St. Leon, Joseph Shaver, Jake Smith, Nick Vassar, Matthew Wagner and Taveion White. They are coached by Al Martinez and Ryan Estes.