January 12, 2014

Longhorns win Classic finale

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

ALEX — The Alex boys basketball team came out on top of a back-and-forth game in a highly charged atmosphere and beat Stratford 44-42 in the Longhorn Classic boys final.

A packed gym in Alex created the perfect scene for such a spectacle of a game. Between the constantly noisy opposing student sections and aggressive play on the court, Shaedon Castor took the time to rack up a game-high 23 points for the Longhorns, including a few late free throws to solidify the win.

Alex actually came out of the first half down, but only by one point. Stratford’s Cade Savage was a menace everywhere around the low block, and would even pop out further a time or two for a short range jumper. Fortunately for the Longhorns, Castor started red hot, sinking four threes in the first half alone. His third one as the first quarter ended actually put Alex up by one, but the Bulldogs struck back to take a 14-13 lead.

The Longhorns spent a lot of time patiently passing around the perimeter, leading to a relatively low scoring game. That was never more true than in the second quarter, when Alex just barely outshot Stratford 7-6 to tie the score at 20-20 at halftime. Castor and Savage went cold, and with no one to take their place the game became much more of a grinding effort than a free flowing shoot-out.

Alex came out of halftime the better, and Daton Payne took advantage. Suddenly he started sinking his three pointers from the left wing, and that was a big part of the 17-8 score line in the third frame. While Savage finished with Stratford’s team-high 18 points, none of that came in the third. It was Josh Waller’s time to step up, and he did to finish the game with 12 points and keep the Bulldogs within reach.

It proved too much. Savage got going once again in the fourth quarter to help Stratford claw back. They scored 14 points in the final quarter, double what Alex had. A close-range jumper from Savage brought the score to 42-41 with just 38 seconds remaining. Stratford had to foul, putting Castor at the line to maintain the advantage. Despite two chances of a close range shot from the corner as the buzzer sounded, Alex kept their two point cushion.