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Sherman beats Denison, continues playoff push

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Elijah Chapman finishes off an alley-oop from Kasai Burton during a win against Denison in District 10-5A play at Bearcat Gymnasium.

As the Bearcats are finding their way back into the playoff race, they know how they execute down the stretch will determine if they can find a way to earn the final berth out of 10-5A.

The first step for Sherman was to hang on for a two-point victory against The Colony. After a quick turnaround, the Bearcats found almost an equal amount of resistance from their rivals but were able to defeat the Denison Yellow Jackets, 49-42, in a district makeup contest at Bearcat Gymnasium.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games, on both sides. We’ve been in this situation a couple times,” Sherman head coach Jordan Marks said. “We’ve been learning to handle these close games and that paid off down the stretch tonight.”

Vontrelle Sanders scored 15 points, Kasai Burton added 13 points, Jalarien Wilson chipped in six points and Ashton Alexander totaled five points for Sherman (10-10, 4-5), which plays at Wylie East on Friday.

The fifth-place Bearcats moved a half-game ahead of Princeton and two games behind The Colony, which holds the last playoff spot with five games to play.

Both teams still have makeup contests next week but The Colony also has one Saturday. If Sherman beats East and The Colony loses to North and then Rock Hill, the Cats will be tied for the last playoff spot.

Caleb Heavner had 14 points, Asa Osbourn chipped in nine points and Corey Roberts totaled five points for Denison (1-14, 0-10), which plays at Lovejoy on Friday night. The Jackets will try to be spoilers over their final four games.

This was a far cry from the first meeting to open district play when Sherman rolled to a 35-point victory.

“They came out with a great game plan. We played right into their hands execution-wise,” Marks said. “I’m not going to put fatigue as an excuse. Our missed shots were like turnovers.”

But Sherman was able to take advantage at the free-throw line, finishing 20-of-32 while Denison went 6-of-13.

“We talked about continuing to attack the basket. We were just 2-of-5 from the line against The Colony,” Marks said. “It’s really hard to win any game when you have that performance at the line.”

When the Jackets threatened to take the lead in the second half, Sherman came up with a pair of runs, the latter essentially putting the game away.

In the third quarter, Denison got three-pointers from Heavner and Osbourn that allowed the Jackets to pull even at 23 in the middle of the frame.

Sanders then came up with consecutive steals and scored off each to kick-start an 8-0 run.

The Bearcats held a 35-29 lead going to the fourth quarter but it was a one-possession game when Roberts hit a three from the right corner with 5:29 remaining.

Denison didn’t make a shot for another four-plus minutes and managed just a free throw from Price while Sherman went on a 12-1 run. Sanders and Burton led the surge that gave the Bearcats a 49-35 lead with just under two-and-half minutes remaining.

Heavner scored seven points in the final 1:13 to cut the deficit in half but the damage was done and Cats earned their fourth straight win in the series.

Sherman made just two shots in the second quarter but they were both huge — Chapman slammed home an alley-oop from Burton to fire up the crowd as the Bearcats started the stanza with five quick points.

Benji Omayebu closed out the half with a three-pointer from the left wing which gave the Bearcats a 21-17 lead at intermission.

Sherman went 12-of-20 from the line at that point while Denison made one of its two free-throw chances.

The Jackets had worked hard to chip away at an eight-point deficit. Ross Hall, Dameon Smallwood and Osbourn all scored underneath to get the margin to two and then Rhodes had a putback to make it 18-17 before Omayebu provided some cushion right before the break.

The Bearcats’ only baskets in the first quarter came from Sanders and Dionte Agnew with the other six points coming at the line, including a pair by Alexander in the closing seconds for a 10-7 lead.

Heavner, De’Teaurean Johnson and Trey Rhodes all hit shots as Denison was down 7-6 before an Osbourn free throw in the final minute tied the score.

District 10-5A

Sherman                49

Denison                 42