The Denison Yellow Jackets were able to end one streak against their rivals. Thanks to a victory on Tuesday night, they are once step closer to ending a much longer drought.
Coming off a buzzer-beating victory against Wylie East, Denison was brimming with confidence and it carried over into its performance against the Sherman Bearcats for a 63-47 victory in District 10-5A action at Denison on Tuesday night.
Tarrence Gaines scored 15 points, Nate Uber and Xavier Adan each added 12 points and Rustin Workman chipped in seven points for Denison (8-18, 3-5), which earned a victory in this rivalry for the first time in nine tries.
The win pushed the fourth-place Yellow Jackets to the brink of clinching their first playoff appearance since 2011. One more Denison win or Sherman loss in the final two games sends Denison to the postseason. At worst, Denison would be forced to a play a tie-breaker against the Bearcats.
“We’re not there yet. We’re not going to be satisfied until we are,” Denison head coach Dale Rhodes said. “This helped. They know it. But we still have to keep playing hard.”
Tazorrian Smith had 15 points, Xzavier Roberson chipped in seven points and Braiden Speed finished with four points for Sherman (9-20, 1-7), which has to win its last two games to have a chance at avoiding elimination.
“We told them this was going to be like a playoff game,” Sherman head coach Jordan Marks said. “Every one for us is do or die.”
The Jackets didn’t take their foot off the gas and by the middle of the third quarter had built up a 29-point lead. Denison started the frame with an 8-0 run before Tyler Fulton hit a three-pointer. The Bearcats then went without a basket for the next three minutes and Denison continued to push the tempo. A three by Uber had the lead at its largest — 53-26 — and the Jackets went to the final eight minutes up by 22.
“We came out third quarter very, very flat,” Marks said. “We made a run in the fourth quarter but it was too late.”
Roberson started a 7-0 spurt with a three-pointer and in the middle of the frame as Sherman trimmed the deficit to 17 and had two possessions to draw closer but couldn’t.
Uber and Workman scored to get the lead back over 20 going into the final minute.
“The energy in the building was huge,” Rhodes said. “We knew they wanted it as bad as we did. We were able to stay calm. That was the biggest thing.”
A late run to end the half allowed Denison to go to the locker room with a 38-22 advantage that ended on Cade Gordy’s three-pointer from the left wing right before the buzzer.
Sherman had cut the margin to eight on Smith’s lay-in when Gaines responded with a three-pointer. Before that the Bearcats were being powered by Smith, who converted a three-point play to help spark Sherman get closer.
It took nearly three minutes into the second stanza for Sherman to hit a shot. D.J. Hester’s free throw in the first couple of seconds was all the Bearcats had until Jalarien Smith’s lay-in following a steal, which was a big answer because Adan drilled a three-pointer on the prior possession for a 22-8 lead.
Sherman got the deficit to 10 twice when Adan hit another three-pointer. The Bearcats began chipping away again until the Jackets’ late push provided some breathing room at the break.
Adan led Denison with 12 points through two quarters while Smith paced Sherman with 14 at the midway-point.
Denison jumped right to the lead with a 7-0 spurt to open the game. Pierce Barker had the first two baskets by the Jackets and then Uber made a three-pointer before Sherman was able to get on the board.
Then back-to-back three-pointers by Adan and Keleon Vaughn gave Denison a 17-2 advantage with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter and Sherman was forced to start scrambling.
“They hit some big shots,” Marks said. “We knew they were going to shoot better at home.”
Smith answered with a three-point play and Hester scored underneath to get the deficit to manageable 10 points after the opening eight minutes.