By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
Don Enis didn’t say a word.
He didn’t have to.
“They knew,’’ said Enis moments after his Kerens Bobcats had beaten Wortham 70-55 Tuesday night.
It wasn’t just a big win for Kerens. It was one the Bobcats had to have to force a tie at the top of the District 18-1A DI race.
Wortham beat Kerens in the district opener at Wortham, 52-50, and was 5-0 and alone in first place in the 18-1A DI race. Entering Tuesday’s game the Bobcats were right behind the Bulldogs at 4-1 and hoping for a chance to move into a tie.
That’s why Enis didn’t need a pregame speech.
“I didn’t have to say anything,’’ Enis said. “They have been in the trenches before. They knew what to do. Nobody needed to say anything.”
Brandon Ward could have given a speech, but he didn’t have to say anything either. He did all his talking on the court, where he poured in a career-high 26 points and lifted Kerens early and often.
Ward not only scored the first four points of the game to help spark a 14-9 first-quarter lead for Kerens, he came out firing in the second half, scoring Kerens’ first nine points of the second half and giving the Bobcats a 44-21 lead with a putback with 6:00 left in the third.
Wortham ran off a 8-3 run to close to 47-29 and then Ward busted another 3 — his second in the first three minutes of the second half — and Kerens led had a 21-point lead, 50-29.
And no one had to say anything
He has really been coming on lately,’’ Enis said of Ward, a senior who had the game of his life. “I don’t think he has ever scored 20. He’s been shooting the ball real well. It gives us another weapon.’’
Kerens already had plenty of weapons, including Nate Betts, a junior who has led the team for two years and is having a season that could merit an All-Golden Circle Player of the Year award. But that’s miles away right now — just like this district race.
“We’re tied with them and if we end in a tie we will have a playoff game,’’ Enis said. “But there are four games left and this is not an easy district. Most of the games are really tight.’’
Enis was happy with his team’s fast start, especially after falling behind early in Wortham and then storming back to lose by two.
Kerens started fast and kept putting pressure on Wortham, something Enis was looking for in the rematch .
“We mentioned about having a good first quarter and we did,’’ Enis said. “And we played much better defense than we did down there. Defense set the tone tonight.’’
If Wortham coach Brian Coffman was disappointed in anything it was his team’s defense that never seemed to be able to slow down Kerens. The Bulldogs, who were led by Daniel Trantham, who scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Witty Busby, who dropped in 13 points, including 10 in the second half. Le’Dharius Freeman, who had been scoring 18 points a game, finished with nine points, and Kenneth Freeman scored nine points for Wortham. Rudy Miller scored seven.
Wortham closed the score to 11 points — 58-47 — with 4:56 left in the game and had enough time to make a run, but Kerens answered with a 10-2 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from Betts, who finished with 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four big blocked shots Tuesday.
Dustin Jock scored seven points and Shelton Sayles added seven for Kerens. Hunter Green had six points and DeQualylon Bivins scored five and Jake Moss scored four.
“We really needed this one,’’ Enis said. “We were really disappointed in the way we played down there. I think we proved we were a better team than that tonight. They knew what they had to do.’’
Kerens LadyCats 56, Wortham Lady Bulldogs 33
The LadyCats clinched their fifth district title in a row with a one-sided win over Wortham, which is trying to finish strong without one of its best players, Kierra Busby, who is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.
The LadyCats are now 8-0 in District 18-1A DI and have a three-game lead on everyone in the district with two games left.
Kerens, which is 21-4 and ranked No. 3 in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association’s state poll, sprinted out to a 20-4 lead, and just kept coming. Cambree Betts scored all 15 of her points in the first half to get Kerens going. The LadyCats shot 57 percent (13-of-23) from the floor and 50 percent (4-of-8) from beyond the arc in the first half to take a 38-17 lead into the locker room.
By the time it was over, Taylor Ames had chipped in with 12 points and Breanna Baxter had added 10. Neither scored in the fourth quarter. Marqueshia Kelly, who opened the game with a 3, scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds, made four steals and blocked two shots for the Lady Cats, who got five points from Emmanuella Armant and four points and six rebounds from Tinesha Tolliver, who both came off the bench.
sWortham, which is now 4-4 in the district race and still in the playoff hunt, was led Kamarie Freeman points, who scored nine points, Kameron Rhodes (7), Sara Sessions (6), Courtney Chasteen (6) and Elisha Libhart (2).