Courtesy photo

Hubbard's Jags celebrate with the large crowd of Hubbard fans moments after beating Jonesboro 63-44 Monday night to win the bi-district title and advance to the Area Round of the Class A playoffs, where the Jags will face No. 18 Neches in their biggest test of the season.

Monday's breakthrough victory ended a 13-year playoff drought as the young Jags became the first boys basketball team from Hubbard since to win in the playoffs since 2008.

The drought is over!

Hubbard's Jags put an end to a 13-year playoff drought Monday night with a convincing 63-44 victory over Jonesboro in a Class A Region IV bi-district showdown. 

The breakthrough win moved Hubbard to the second round of the playoffs, where the Jags will face 18th-ranked Neches later this week at a time and site to be determined.

The Jaguars, who hadn't won in the playoffs since 2008, surprised a lot of high school fans when they finished second in the District 26-A race and entered the postseason as a No. 2 seed. The Hubbard kids knew all about the 13-year drought, but they were weren't rattled or nervous about the playoff pressure.

The Jags didn't flinch when the chance came Monday night to make history at Valley Mills High School, where they jumped out early and led the entire game. The Hubbard kids knew all about the 13-year drought, but they were weren't rattled or nervous about the playoff pressure.

"Before the game they were talking about the game like it was a business trip and we had to take care of business and win," said Kent Fuller, Hubbard's first-year coach who turned the program around.

"They weren't overconfident. They just believed were going to win," he said. "We kept it as normal as it could be. They enjoyed it.''

 The Jaguars used a stifling press that gave the Eagles trouble all night long, smothering Jonesboro and dominating the game with an aggressive in-your-face defense that ignited the offense.

"It was the activity level of our press which led to a lot of easy buckets," Fuller said. "No matter who was on the floor for us there was no dropoff in our defensive pressure"

Freshman sensation Kendan Johnson looked like he had been in the postseason forever, and led the way, pouring in a game-high 30 points.

"Kendan was very good tonight. He's been on an offensive streak for the past month that I haven't seen too many high school kids accomplish," Fuller said. "I've never seen a freshman score at the rate he has been scoring.

"Kevin Whitworth, a sophomore, took on the responsibility of not only dictating the activity level of the Jaguars press, he also contributed 10 points as well," Fuller said.

"From the department of 'Things that don't show up in the stat column,' senior guard Blaine Cornelius ignited the Jaguar faithful who were in attendance by taking three second half charges. Those charges showed the buy-in that we have as a program. These guys will sacrifice themselves and do whatever it takes to get the win and Blaine's three second half charges were the perfect example of that.''

"The 'Go All Out' mentality for the Jaguars will be put to the test as they finalize the when and where of their Area round game vs. state-ranked Neches.''

Hubbard led all night, and was up by nine points at halftime before blowing the game wide open with a huge third-quarter run that lifted the Jags to a 51-33 lead before coasting home in the fourth.

In the end the Jags didn't go crazy, but they soaked it all in and celebrated with a big Hubbard crowd -- standing on the court, facing the Hubbard fans waving and shouting together, sharing the moment.

"It was a great feeling," Fuller said. "These boys will have that experience forever."


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