By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – In four previous seasons, the Saltillo Tigers had not won a Class 5A regular-season matchup.
Cross one thing off the to-do list of first-year Saltillo coach Craig Lauderdale as the Tigers claimed a 72-58 victory over the West Point Green Wave.
“I’m going to say this is a huge win,” Lauderdale said. “I don’t think Saltillo has won a 5A game since there were six classes.
“Our goals are higher than one division win. We want to make a statement for all Saltillo basketball.”
Saltillo (8-3, 1-0) began writing its statement for this contest in the second quarter. There, the Tigers maneuvered their way to a 34-28 advantage, with A. J. Hunt and Tucker Wood hitting baskets in the closing two minutes.
The Green Wave (9-5, 0-1) shot out of the locker room with two quick baskets by A. J. Jones and Demarious Calvert to pull within 34-32. But Jerrard Sadler halted the West Point momentum with a shot from the corner, then closed the third quarter with a rebound and put back to give Saltillo a 49-38 lead.
“I knew in the spring when Craig Lauderdale got the job, Saltillo was going to be better,” West Point head coach Brad Cox said. “Offensive rebounding hurt us tonight.
“They’d get a rebound, then we’d get a foul on the shot.”
Hunt and Brody Whtehead each scored 19 for the Tigers. Trey Williams had 17 for West Point.
(G) West Point 50, Saltillo 48: The Lady Green Wave had the lead at the end of each period, though the Lady Tigers threatened in the final quarter.
Saltillo (5-7, 0-1) pulled within 43-42 on an Allie Moreland basket with 3:30 to play. West Point pushed its margin to 49-42 following a Lexis Gates bucket.
The Lady Tigers managed to fight back to within 49-46 with 42 seconds left on a Lexi Brazeal shot, but that was as close as they could come until a bucket at the final buzzer.
Bhrea Mitchell paced Saltillo with 15.