By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Navarro’s chances to take command of the Region XIV race came down to one possession at the end of the game Saturday in Tyler.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs never got a shot off and left the Rose City with a 75-73 loss to the Apaches at Wagstaff Gymnasium, one that has the Region XIV race down to a game with Navarro still in the lead.
Frustrated by Tyler’s zone defense all afternoon, Navarro put together an indecisive possession in the last 30 seconds trailing by three points, one that ended with point guard Harrison Hawkins having the ball kick off his knee and out of bounds.
It was a tough ending for Navarro, and especially Hawkins, who had a spectacular game from behind the 3-point arc. Hawkins made six treys, including four in a row in the first half to keep the Runnin’ Bulldogs in the game.
Navarro (18-5, 10-2) had a chance to take a three-game lead over Tyler (18-4, 9-3) in the conference, one that may well have been insurmountable. Instead, the Runnin’ Bulldogs have a one-game lead on Tyler and have to wait until Feb. 27 for the return engagement at the Wolens Center.
There are several tough games before that, including Navarro’s Wednesday night home game against rival Trinity Valley and Tyler’s road trip to third-place Kilgore.
“We just beat a great team,” Tyler coach Mike Marquise said. “They have beat people at home; they have beat people on the road. They have shot it, they have rebounded it, they have guarded. That was a tremendous win for us.”
Navarro will need to come up with a solution on stopping Tyler point guard Anthony Odunsi. The 6-4 guard from The Woodlands was in foul trouble in the first half, and then scored 25 of his 31 points after intermission. He made a living at the line, hitting 17 of 19 free throws.
Hawkins led the Bulldogs with 21 points. He made 6 of his 13 3-pointers, missing his first two and then making four straight to give Navarro a 29-28 halftime lead.
Neither team was able to build much of lead until Tyler took a 70-59 lead with 2:25 left as Odunsi scored six points during a 10-point run.
Navarro’s man-to-man defense produced a rally closing the lead to 71-68 with 32 seconds left. Navarro made four passes working the ball around and finally got it to Hawkins, who was bumped on what could have been a foul.
Instead he lost control and couldn’t recover the ball.
And with that, Navarro lost for only the second time in 17 games.