By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Tigers coach Don Newton turned to his bench with his top shooters floundering in the first half of Friday’s game against Nacogdoches.
The move energized his entire team.
Corsicana’s five bench players turned the momentum early in the second quarter, and Mike Lewis and Ralph Watts made 3-pointers in the final 1:04 of the half as the Tigers pulled away for a 58-32 victory over Nacogdoches at Tiger Gym.
The Tigers (21-6, 3-2) moved into a three-way tie for second place with John Tyler and Whitehouse, two games behind district leader Jacksonville.
The Tigers start the second half of the district schedule Tuesday night at home against Whitehouse. It’s arguably one of the most pivotal home games for Corsicana’s boys basketball team in years.
Corsicana, two games up on fifth-place Nacogdoches with five games to play, can at least start thinking about finishing in second or third place in 16-4A. The fourth-place team likely will have to play No. 5 Arlington Seguin (24-4), which was ranked No. 1 in the state last week.
Corsicana follows Tuesday’s game with a road trip to first-place Jacksonville and then next Tuesday at co-second-place John Tyler.
“We’ve explained what the situation is and how important it is to split with these guys,” Newton said. “Obviously the bar is a lot higher to finish better than fourth place. We need to win two of these next three games.”
The Tigers did exactly what they needed to do Friday night against Nacogdoches — dominate.
Corsicana trailed 9-6 after the first quarter when Newton sat down his starters and brought in his five bench players. The second group outplayed Nacogdoches as Tedrick Wilson made a 3-pointer during a six-point run to tie the game at 15-15 with 3:47 left in the half.
Then with the Tigers trailing 17-16 with 1:04 left in the first half, Mike Lewis, who got off to a rough shooting night, hit a 3-pointer for the lead. Ralph Watts followed by nailing a 3-pointer for a 22-17 lead before halftime.
Corsicana blitzed Nacogdoches in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter as the Tigers outscored the Dragons 25-9. Alonzo Gipson scored 7 of his 9 points in the quarter.
In all, the Tigers’ bench score 31 points. Tedrick Wilson made two 3-pointers and scored eight points. Ralph Watts also had eight points off the bench — making two 3s in the second quarter — and Danair Martin had five points.
“The bench has been coming on strong the last few weeks,” Newton said. “Our team chemistry is good.
“Our guys are ready to go whenever the opportunities are there.”
Corsicana 58, Nacogdoches 32
Nacogdoches 9 8 6 9 -- 32
Corsicana 6 16 11 25 -- 58
Nacogdoches -- Patrick Sanders 4, Kwa Jones 3, Jeron Garrett 1, Christian Stokes 2, Austin Willeford 4, D'Ante Riggins 12, Mason Proctor 1, LJ Barnes 4.
Corsicana -- Dzifa Mallet 7, Mike Lewis 9, Danair Martin 5, Tedrick Wilson 8, Ernest McGhee 7, Lathan Carter 1, Alonzo Gipson 9, Jamaar Evans 4, Ralph Watts 8.
Records -- Nacogdoches 12-11, 1-4 in 16-4A; Corsicana 21-6, 3-2.