BOYS BASKETBALL: Thomas takes over late as Panthers clip Rebels
Jan 13, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Amarillo Tascosa played Permian step for step Saturday afternoon.
But when it came down to crunch time at the Permian Fieldhouse, the Rebels couldn't quite keep pace with Robert Thomas.
Thomas, the Panthers' sophomore point guard who finished with the first triple-double in Danny Wright's six seasons as head coach, was especially good when it mattered most. His short jumper broke a tie with 1 minute, 35 seconds, remaining in the District 2-5A boys basketball showdown, and on the next trip down the floor he faked a shot and threw a dart to a wide-open Juwan McGee underneath the basket.
Thomas got a steal and a breakaway layup shortly thereafter, and just like that, the Panthers pulled out a 66-58 win that put them in a first-place tie with Lubbock Coronado.
"He's a player," Tascosa coach Steven Jackson said of Thomas. "He knew that if it was going to happen, he was going to make it happen. We knew coming into the game that everything they do, a lot of what they do, runs through him. And we did nothing to stop it.
"He did what he wanted. He wanted to win that game, and he wanted his team to win that game."
Thomas, despite going 0-of-5 from 3-point range, scored a game-high 22 points while dishing out 10 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds. And he wasn't the only Panther who played a great game.
Keouvion McCalop, Permian's 6-foot-7 senior, posted a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. He got all of his points around the basket or from the free-throw line, and he dominated defensively with six blocked shots.
"I'm the tallest person on the team, most likely going to be the tallest person on the court," McCalop said. "So I'm going to have to be aggressive offensively and defensively."
Permian (16-6 overall, 7-1 district) also got 12 points from McGee and nine from Tori Loud, and they combined to make all three of the Panthers' 3-pointers. And Jorrion Wilson provided some winning intangibles like he usually does, fighting for rebounds and loose balls and being a general nuisance on defense.
The Panthers needed all of it to win a game in which there were eight ties and 19 lead changes. Neither team led by more than seven points until Thomas scored the final two points from the free-throw line with 2 seconds left.
The tough bout against Tascosa (12-10, 4-4) -- which got double-digit scoring totals from Conner Thompson (14 points), Ja'Quan Smith (13), Brock Yarbrough (12) and Avery Eluins (11) -- came less than 24 hours after Permian avenged its only district loss with a 34-point rout of Abilene High.
"After last night, you come back and get a win, we'll take it," Wright said. "There were moments, with a tie ballgame with 8 minutes left, and you manage to find a way to win, coach, sometimes those moments are what can determine whether or not you compete for the district (title)."
The Panthers are in position to do that halfway through the district race, and they already own a win against Coronado. Thomas took over down the stretch in an overtime win against the Mustangs on Dec. 17, and he did it again Saturday against the Rebels.
As far as Thomas is concerned, that's merely his job description as the Panthers' point guard.
"I'm the floor general, so the ball's in my hands," Thomas said. "I've got to make this my play and give my team what we need to get the job done."
Contact Adam Zuvanich on twitter @OAzuvanich, on Facebook at OA Adam Zuvanich or call 432-333-7649.
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