By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
The Navarro Runnin' Bulldogs had every reason to be flat against winless Panola on Wednesday night after an emotional win at Paris this past weekend.
Navarro used an 18-2 run in the first half to pull away from Panola, throttling the Ponies 79-54 at the K. and Ida Wolens Special Events Center.
Navarro (21-5, 13-2) maintained its two-game lead in the conference with four games to go in the regular season. Panola (8-17, 0-15) has lost 12 games in a row.
"At this time of year there are a lot of upsets," Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said. "Sometimes it's harder to play when you're up on top. You just have to make sure you take care of you."
Harrison Hawkins hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 74-71 overtime win in Paris and carrried that over Wednesday night. He made three 3-pointers in the first half as Navarro led 33-14 at the break. He was 5 for 9 on 3-pointers for the game and led Navarro with 17 points.
The Runnin' Bulldogs blew the game open in the second half with four 3-pointers and an array of dunks. Duan Wright,who had a team-high nine rebounds, had a thunderous slam following up a missed shot. Toney Foster had a slam.
But the play of the night had to be Hawkins and Princeton Onwas combining on a spectacular play. Hawkins made a steal in about 60 feet from the basket and sprinted down the court and appeared like was a going up for a layup. Hawkins, only 5-10, felt a Paris defender behind him, and instead of trying for a layin that surely would have been rejected, he passed the ball off the backboard for Onwas, who came flying in for the dunk for a 66-52 lead with 3:53 left in the game.
Onwas' dunk came during a 19-8 run to close out the game after Panola had pulled within 60-46 with 5:35 left in the game.
"It gives you a little energy," Estelle said. "It puts the other team in disarray a little bit emotionally."
Panola managed to stay close early, tying the game at 10-10 with 11:10 left in the first half. Justin Phillipe then made a layup, Hawkins made consecutive 3-pointers and David Woodard had a basket for a 20-10 lead with 7:55 left in the first half.
After Panola's Benjamin Merritt made a jumper to cut Navarro's lead to 20-12, the Bulldogs went on a 13-2 run to end the half. Johnathan Benn had a sweet drive and mid-range jumper during the spurt as Navarro showed no signs of fatigue after Saturday's overtime win in Paris.
That's because Hawkins provided the energy again not just with his 3s, but also with three assists, four steals and a turnover. Hawkins has led the Bulldogs in scoring and shot the 3-pointer extremely well in Navarro's last three home games.
"I love our home gym," Hawkins said. "It's like playing home, in our house."
Navarro 79, Panola 54
Panola -- Benjamin Merritt 4, Joseph Williams 8, Gilbert Carter 19, Patrick Branch 3, Marquis Yates 9, Christopher Youetto 3, Joshua Brannon 8.
Navarro -- Harrison Hawkins 17, Shannon Lilly 3, Johnathan Benn 6, Princeton Onwas 7, David Woodard 6, Toney Foster 14, Duan Wright 6, Jamar Goodwin 7, Brandon Scott 2, Aaron Turner 4, Terrance Syon 5, Justin Phillipe 2.
Free throws -- Panola 4-8; Navarro 10-13.
Three-pointers -- Panola 8 (Carter 4, Yates 3, Youetto 1); Navarro (Hawkins 5, Lilly 1, Onwas 1, Goodwin 1, Turner 1).
Halftime -- Navarro 33, Panola 14.