McKINNEY — Tryston Gaines has had some breakout performances this season in helping the Whitesboro Bearcats to an undefeated district title.
His touch around the basket, and a willingness to shoot from the outside, make him hard to guard as he shifts around the floor.
Seemingly the only time the senior forward didn’t score was when he sat for the final five minutes after producing 35 points and 20 rebounds as the Bearcats defeated Dallas A+ Academy, 76-47, in a Class 3A Region II area round game at McKinney North.
Whitesboro (24-9) will face Van Alstyne in the region quarterfinals for a berth at the region tournament.
“The next round’s going to be really, really tough,” Whitesboro head coach Toby Sluder said. “They beat us by double digits in the Allen Tournament. We know what we’re getting into.”
Carson Hickman added nine points, Andrew Fletcher totaled eight points and 18 rebounds, Montana Morgan chipped in eight points and four assists and Cade Acker finished with six points for Whitesboro, which is in the third round for the first time since 2014.
“We had to do better than last year,” Sluder said about their area-round loss from last spring. “Winning a district title makes it a little easier to do. Most of these guys have been starting since they were sophomores and Cade since he was a freshman. They’re experienced.”
Rollins Carrie and Thomas Phillips each scored 12 points, Jason Orta added nine points and Edwin Solis totaled eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks for A+ Academy, which had never been past the first round before this season.
Whitesboro went into the final eight minutes with a 62-36 lead which was stretched to 28 points for a 70-42 margin when the Bearcats went to the bench with 4:55 left.
How they got to that point was their play throughout the third quarter.
“Third quarter defensively was the difference,” Sluder said. “It was 10 points at half-time and so defense was going to win this game.”
Phillips had helped keep the Knights close in the first half, which is when he scored all of his points. And Carrie had all but three of his points before the break. Shutting the duo down in turn clogged up A+ Academy’s offense and it led to just six points in the third.
After the teams traded baskets to open the second half, Whitesboro went on an 11-0 run with Gaines making three baskets, Hickman hitting his third three of the night and Fletcher finishing it off with a hook shot as the lead went past 20 points for the first time.
Orta had his second bucket of the quarter to end the Knights’ four-minute drought but A+ Academy managed only a pair of free throws from Carrie the rest of the frame.
Gaines had consecutive putbacks to give him 31 points and 17 boards through three quarters and Morgan was fouled on a three with 0.9 seconds remaining in the stanza, then converted all the free throws to give Whitesboro the 26-point advantage.
The only time Whitesboro led by double digits in the first half was on Hunter Case’s three-pointer with six seconds left before intermission made it a 41-30 game.
Gaines had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the half and 10 points in the second quarter. Whitesboro also hit five threes in the frame to hold off the Knights.
Acker sandwiched three-pointers from the top of the key around one that Jacob Duran banked in for A+ Academy and a quick burst by the Knights made it a four-point margin before the Bearcats closed the quarter on a 7-0 spurt to widen a gap that would only increase once the third quarter began.
Whitesboro opened the game with a 6-0 run and was up 11-5 after a three by Morgan in the middle of the first before the Knights started chipping away. Carrie converted a three-point play with just under two minutes to go to get the lead down to one and the teams traded points the rest of the stanza as the Bearcats led 16-15 after the opening eight minutes.