Orangefield beats Kountze to tie for first place
Last updated 2/12/2024 at 10:19am
A battle for first place in the district standings was fought Friday night, February 9, at Orangefield Gymnasium. The Bobcats captured a tense 60-55 victory over the Kountze Lions.
Orangefield with the win moved into a tie for first place in District 22-3A with Kountze. Both teams are 12-1 in district with a game to play, so a seeding game will be played if the Bobcats and Lions both won their final games of the regular season on Tuesday, February 13.
The gym at Orangefield was packed on the home side as well as the visitor side. The fans were enthusiastically loud in both stands throughout the whole contest as would be expected for such an important game.
Kountze took the initial lead with a basket which was answered by the Bobcats' Jaden Scales who hit the first of his four three pointers that night to put Orangefield on top 3-2. The Lions regained the lead briefly before Scales hit another basket to give the Bobcats a 5-4 advantage.
A free throw tied the game for Kountze, but Scales was red hot and hit his next three field goal attempts including another shot from beyond the three point line as Orangefield went on top 13-7. Zane Wrinkle got in on the action hitting a three pointer and a field goal sandwiched around the third three of the quarter by Jaden and a basket by Kountze to stretch the Bobcat lead to 12 points at 21-9. A three at the buzzer by the Lions made the score 21-12 after one period.
Scales and Wrinkle continued putting points on the board in the second quarter. Jaden made a steal and a bucket for the first points of the period and added another three later to have 21 points at the half. Wrinkle scored five points to reach double digits after two quarters.
Posts Garrett Rawls and Kadyn Rucker both got buckets in the second. Rucker also blocked a shot that got the Orangefield faithful on their feet. The Bobcats enjoyed a 35-25 lead as the teams went to the locker rooms.
Kane Smith of the Bobcats made a beautiful reverse layup early in the third quarter for his first points of the game. Mason Manning grabbed a rebound which he put back in the hole for two points, and Griffin Thomas made the last basket of the third quarter to keep Orangefield ahead by five points 44-39 with eight minutes to play.
Kountze raised the intensity in the final quarter applying the press on every in bound the Bobcats made. Two early Lions' baskets made it a two point game 45-43 before Scales sank two free throws to stretch it back to four points with six minutes left in regulation.
A shot by Smith dropped in, and Orangefield led 49-43. Kountze scored the next three points only to see Scales make an acrobatic lay in to give the Bobcats a five point advantage 51-46 with just under five minutes to play.
Thomas hit a huge three pointer with under four minutes to go and the Bobcats went up by six points. The Lions would not sleep tonight or at least not yet as they cut the lead to three points 56-53 with a minute and two seconds to go in regulation.
Twenty-eight seconds later Wrinkle got two free throws to fall. Kountze then made a free throw which Zane countered with one of his own to make the score 59-54 with thirteen seconds showing on the clock.
The two teams exchanged a free throw apiece in the last seven seconds to finish the exciting contest. Kountze matched its point total from the first meeting at home with Orangefield scoring 55 points, while the Bobcats scored fourteen more than previously finishing with 60 points.
The Bobcats' two career thousand point scorers led the way with Scales scoring 26, and Wrinkle racking up 19 points. Zane had 10 rebounds to complete a double double, and Jaden grabbed 3 rebounds.
Coach Brian Whitmire credited the Bobcats for the incredible victory. "They played a great game, played really hard, they did a great job of executing the game plan. Kountze is a very tough team, the margin for error is really small. The guys executed tonight, and I just feel fortunate for us coming out with the win. I'm really proud of them," Whitmire responded.
Orangefield won earlier in the week on Tuesday, February 6, at home 60-45 over the Anahuac Panthers. Jaden Scales reached the 1,000 point mark in just his second year on the varsity scoring 16 points in the game. Zane Wrinkle led in points with 18 and rebounds with 8 boards. Griffin Thomas scored in double figures with 12 points.
In local Class 4A basketball action the Bridge City Cardinals won both their games this week. The Cardinals clinched second place in District 19-4A.
Bridge City beat Lumberton 52-36 on Tuesday, February 6. Aiden Gutierrez led the Cardinals with 14 points followed by Aaden Bush who scored 13 and Lincoln Breaux who had 12 points.
Three nights later Bridge City jumped over Jasper 68-48 to improve to 9-2 in district. Breaux topped four Cardinals scoring in double figures with 16 points, while Jagger Carlin got 15 points, Bush tallied 14 points, and Stephen Stone hit for 10 points.
West Orange-Stark has clinched a spot in the post season. The Mustangs at 7-4 in district games are guaranteed a third place seeding for the playoffs.
The Mustangs split their two games last week losing at home on Tuesday to first place Silsbee 112-55 and winning 58-53 over Little Cypress Mauriceville on Friday. The loss dropped the Bears to 3-8 in district.
The district action wrapped up on Tuesday of this week with Bridge City visiting West Orange-Stark, and LCM traveling to Silsbee. Playoffs are ahead next week for Bridge City and West Orange-Stark.