Sherman’s chances of making the playoffs weren’t very realistic even before senior Tre’ Mask’s out-of-state football recruiting trip.

Sherman’s chances of making the playoffs weren’t very realistic even before senior Tre’ Mask’s out-of-state football recruiting trip.

After Friday’s 63-53 home loss to Royse City, Bearcats head coach Greg Nix is starting to look ahead to next year.

"Tonight, the talk was we were still mathematically still alive," Nix said. "We were going to have to beat either Lovejoy or (McKinney) North. But we were also going to have to win tonight, so now we’re mathematically eliminated."

The loss leaves the Bearcats (10-10, 2-7) two games behind a three-way tie for fourth place with five games to go, but with the matchups remaining in District 13-4A and the large number of teams Sherman has to run down, the hill is too steep for the Cats to climb.

"We have seven practices left and five games, so we want to make sure we end strong," Nix said. "We’ve got a got of juniors coming back and we want them to keep getting better. We want to have fun and keep playing hard."

The visiting Bulldogs hit on 11 3-point baskets as they moved out of the logjam in the middle and alone into third place with the win.

The Bearcats had chances to make it close late, starting with Treyson Jones’ 3-point basket from the left corner with three minutes left which cut the margin to 59-53.

The Bearcats got a stop on the defensive end, but another Jones 3-point try to cut it to three was no good, Royse City’s Cameron Caffee rebounded, and Sherman ended the game by missing five more shots.

"We knew with a bunch of some of the kids having been on the floor, we’d have to make a run and use all our energy," Nix said. "That’s when we went to a half-court trap, forced them into taking a couple of bad shots and got some rebounds. Once we cut it to six, we just couldn’t answer."

J’Lynn Thompson led the Bearcats once again with 21 points, and Jones finished with 11 points. Banner Sullivan wound up with seven points and six rebounds, and Ty Williams added six points and 12 boards.

"(Williams) is out there playing until he asks to come out, and J’Lynn, we weren’t going to consider taking him out," Nix said. "We used time outs as well as we could and end of quarters to get him a rest. Once (Royse City) saw Tre’ wasn’t there, they were going to press us and make us burn all that energy."

Sherman played without Mask, the team’s second-leading scorer, who flew to Ohio on Friday for a recruiting visit to the University of Toledo.

"We were going to miss his scoring, but I was concerned with the big body he brings on the glass," Nix said. "He rebounds so well. We didn’t know until yesterday at practice that Tre’ wasn’t going to be here."

Jackson Watts had 17 points, including five 3-pointers, for Royse City (11-10, 5-4). Caffee finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Joseph Steffen chipped in with 11 points.

Sherman actually held a 35-33 rebounding advantage, which pleased Nix, but the Bearcats committed 17 turnovers. Nix also felt the Cats played about as good perimeter defense as they could, even with the 11 triples.

"They hit some open shots, but they hit three or four that I don’t think we could’ve guarded any better without fouling," Nix said. "I thought we were in the right position and we had hands up. We were right there and they hit some big shots."

The Bearcats stayed close for a half and led 21-19 midway through the second period on a deep 3-pointer by Jones from the right wing. But Caffee tied it with an inside basket, and then Watts gave the Bulldogs the lead with his first try of the night.

Sherman stayed within sight until the end of the half, when back-to-back 3s by Watts and Jared Richardson sent Royse City into the dressing room leading 33-27.

The Bulldogs then opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, with another Watts 3 making the deficit 41-29 with 6:07 to go.