By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
FAIRFIELD — —
The Tigers faced some early morning adversity Thursday, from a 9 a.m. start to playing a Waco La Vega team that made it to the state tournament.
Corsicana handled it for a while, even overcame it before the half, but ultimately La Vega hit enough shots — especially 3-pointers — to pull away for a 76-65 victory over the Tigers in the opening game of the Fairfield Tournament.
The Tigers (7-2) saw a seven-game winning streak come to an end. Corsicana moves into the consolation bracket where the Tigers will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday against Mabank. La Vega, which lost several starters off last year's team, upped its record to 5-0.
"We were ready to play," Tigers coach Don Newton said. "I was pleased with the effort. I was pleased with the start. I thought we handled the pressure well until we got tired. When we faced adversity late in the third quarter we didn't respond."
The Tigers scored the game's first nine points, led 33-32 at halftime and were within a point at 50-49 when Dzifa Mallet made a layup but missed a free throw to complete a three-point play, leaving Corsicana down by a point with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
La Vega caught fire, going on a 16-3 run to end the third quarter and start the fourth to take a 66-53 lead with 6:31 left in the game. La Vega made four of its 12 3-pointers during the run, with Devynn McCarter making two of them. McCarter had a game-high 29 points.
Still, it was a three-possession game with a minute left against best team the Tigers have played this season as Corsicana closed within 72-65 on a 3-pointer by Anthony Jones. But four turnovers -- the Tigers had 28 for the game -- in the final 45 seconds doomed any chance they had to close the cap.
The Tigers had some moments that flashed their early season success. They made 40-percent of their 3-pointers. They had 14 offensive rebounds.
Dzifa Mallet and Ernest McGhee combined for nine points to open the game as the Tigers came out with a ton of energy. They led 15-7 before La Vega answered with a 13-0 sparked by the shooting of McCarter and Austen Bradshaw, who combined for 53 points.
Corsicana trailed 30-22 before going on a 11-2 run to end the first half. Mallet had five points during the run and Tim Lang closed out the half with a 3-pointer for the lead.
McCarter scored 13 of his 29 in the third quarter to spark a hot finish for La Vega. He had five 3-pointers in the second half as the Tigers didn't do a good job of closing out on shooters.
"We're going to make them make tough shots," Newton said. "We didn't do a good job of continuing to contest."
Waco La Vega 76, Corsicana 65
La Vega 15 17 26 18 — 76
Corsicana 15 18 20 12 — 65
La Vega — Eric Ervin 3, Marcus Evans 5, Gioany Benjamin 4, De'andre Jones 2, Devynn McCarter 29, Rodrick Stubblefield 9, Austen Bradshaw 24.
Corsicana — Dzifa Mallet 24, Tim Lang 6, Mike Lewis 14, Tedrick Wilson 2, Anthony Jones 6, Ernest McGhee 9, Lathan Carter 2, Alonzo Gipson 2.
Records — Waco La Vega 5-0, Corsicana 7-2.