A victory like this one to avoid getting buried in the District 13-4A playoff hunt was one Sherman definitely needed.

A victory like this one to avoid getting buried in the District 13-4A playoff hunt was one Sherman definitely needed.

The Bearcats buckled down defensively in the fourth quarter and made their free throws, and had four players score in double figures as they beat Greenville on Friday night at Bearcat Gymnasium, 68-63, to finally get in the win column in loop play.

"I was worried about their length," Bearcats head coach Greg Nix said. "If we shot average and they shot average, I was worried about them beating us on second shots. I thought we held our own on rebounds. It was better than I thought it would be."

J’Lynn Thompson finished with 24 points and three steals for the Bearcats (9-7, 1-4), followed by Tre’ Mask with 18 tallies and seven rebounds, Ty Williams with 12 points and nine boards, and Banner Sullivan with 10 points.

Nix had lots of good things to say about Williams and also DeQuan Howard, who grabbed four rebounds off the bench.

"He’s 5-foot-11½ and 140 pounds, and he goes in there and he just battles," Nix said of Howard. "He’s like a mini-Rodman. He keeps balls alive, and the kids feed off those two. Ty’s the same way. Ty goes crazy at times and has three or four rebounds and three or four baskets at a stretch."

The Bearcats also got a boost from Treyson Jones, who took a charge on the defensive end midway through the fourth period and also had a steal in the final seconds which led to Mask’s game-sealing layup.

"Treyson got into some foul trouble early, but he had a big steal at the end," Nix said. "You have to stick with it. You can’t let mental things take you out, and that’s what’s happened to us the first part of district."

The Bearcats finished 23-of-34 from the charity stripe and also committed only 10 turnovers, which helped offset a 41-34 rebounding disadvantage.

After Sherman led through most of the second and third quarters, Greenville (11-7, 3-2) took a 55-52 lead after two 3-pointers from the right wing by D’erron Wilson to open the fourth.

But Mask answered with a 3 of his own from the left wing, then after a Mask steal, Thompson made two free throws with 6:15 left, and the Cats never trailed again.

The Lions rallied to cut it to 64-60 with 1:21 to go on a Marlon Mack 3-pointer, but Mask made both ends of a one-and-one with 54.9 ticks left and Greenville missed two from the arc in the final seconds.

"If we played with that focus and intensity, we’d be 4-1 right now (in district) and we’d be sitting in second place," Nix said.

Justin Wade led the Lions with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Collen Wilburn finished with a dozen points and Wilson added 10 off the bench.

The fouls mounted quickly in a tightly-called first half. Sherman shot 22 free throws and made 14 of them before halftime, while the Lions shot 22 and made 18.

Another cold start for the Bearcats saw Greenville open up a 5-0 lead, but a runner by Sullivan got the Cats untracked and Thompson scored eight points as the first eight minutes ended tied at 18.

Thompson, Mask and Sullivan each hit 3-pointers in the second frame, but a technical foul on Greenville’s Byron Redmon on top of a shooting foul helped change the momentum. Although Sherman made just 1-of-4 free throws, the Bearcats got the ball and Mask hit a trey to open up a five-point margin, and the Bearcats went on to a 40-34 halftime lead.

Nix was impressed by the attendance at the game — a number probably influenced by the contentious football game between the Bearcats and Lions in November.

"On a Friday night with it raining all day, I didn’t know what to expect," Nix said. "But it was really, really good."

The Bearcats have a large number of home games in the coming weeks, including Tuesday’s contest against McKinney North. This gives the Cats a chance to start climbing up the ladder in the district standings.

"Beating McKinney North would be great," Nix said. "We’re going to come out and do everything we can. But it’s the other teams in the district that are right there in the second half that we’ve got to take care of the second time through."