ALEDO – The Granbury Pirates had Aledo right where they wanted them, a double-digit lead in the second half and the Bearcats’ star player not even suited up.
Then they played the fourth quarter.
Actually, the Bearcats’ rally began in the final minute of the third quarter. It carried over throughout the final period for a 19-3 run and a 50-44 victory Friday night in a critical District 7-4A basketball game for both teams.
With the outcome, the teams are tied with 6-5 records in district. They trail Arlington Heights by a game, and each has a game remaining with the Yellowjackets.
In fact, the Pirates (15-13 overall) were playing Heights last night at Billingsley Field House. The Jackets won the first meeting in Granbury 60-47.
Likewise, Heights defeated Aledo in their first meeting, 51-47 in Aledo on Jan. 15. The teams play again Friday in Fort Worth.
The race for the district’s final two playoff berths was set up by Aledo’s wild finish Friday.
When Jacob Taylor hit a 3-pointer with 1:34 to play in the third quarter, it gave the Pirates a 41-31 lead, overcoming an early 11-point deficit. From there, the Bearcats began to chip away. And they did so without Taylor Johnson, arguably the best player in the entire district, who is averaging 21 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“He (Aledo coach Steve Smith) figured out how to guard us,” said Granbury coach David Breazeale.
Most notably, Smith adjusted his defense to take away the Pirates’ deadly outside game. Granbury hit nine 3-point baskets in the first three quarters, including seven by Clay Brawner, who led all scorers with 24 points.
“We did not count on him shooting like that. He made fools out of us,” said Aledo’s Luke Bishop of Brawner.
“He was the one killing us, so we figured we’d just make the others beat us.”
Kyle Gromann of Aledo scored the final four points of the third quarter to make the score 41-35. Then, after Brandon Fichter’s short jumper made the score 43-35 45 seconds into the final quarter, the Pirates were outscored 15-1 the rest of the way.
Smith, formerly the coach of Granbury, called it the best win of his career.
“I told the kids before the game, Taylor has given us so much, let’s go reward him,” he said.
Meanwhile, Breazeale reminded his team they still control their own destiny.
“I told them we lost it in the fourth quarter, but we’ve still got a ton of basketball left,” he said.
The Pirates are trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
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Granbury 6 17 18 3 – 44
Aledo 12 10 13 15 – 50
Granbury (15-13, 6-5 in 7-4A) scoring – Clay Brawner 24, Jacob Taylor 6, Brandon Fichter 6, Nick Doughty 4, Klint Keating 2, Jimmy Hodges 2.
Aledo (18-13, 6-5) leading scorers – Kyle Gromann 17, Carl Williams 16.
3-pointers – Granbury 9-24 (Brawner 7, Taylor 2), Aledo 2-4.
Rebounds – Granbury 22 (Fichter 8), Aledo 27 (Gromann 9).
Turnovers – Granbury 12, Aledo 12.
Free throws – Granbury 5-13, Aledo 12-25.