Whitewright's Cinderella story ended by Chisum

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Whitewright's Aaron Pitt drives to the basket during a region quarterfinal contest against Paris Chisum.

ANNA — The run was going to end for one of them, and neither the Whitewright Tigers nor the Paris Chisum Mustangs felt it was going to be them.

After they each pulled off a pair of upsets in the first two rounds as four seeds — including knocking off the other's district champion — one of them was going to be among the four teams left standing in the region.

Whitewright had needed a little magic just to get into the playoffs. If not for a last-second, near half-court shot by Aaron Pitt in the district finale, the Tigers' season would have ended weeks ago.

"The biggest thing was the kids had a no-quit attitude," Whitewright head coach Jansen Trotter said. "They were excited about getting better each day. They got after it and put it all on the line and I'm proud of them for that."

They were making the most of their opportunity but Whitewright's magic finally ran out against perhaps a bigger underdog as Chisum defeated the Tigers, 59-49, in a Class 3A Region II quarterfinal.

Paris Chisum (20-8) will face Tatum in the region semifinals. Before this season the Mustangs hadn't won a playoff game in 15 years and were in the third round for the first time since 2000. This is the program's first region semifinal appearance since 1990.

For Whitewright (18-9), the wait wasn't nearly as long but the Tigers had their first postseason success in five years and were in the region quarters for the first time since 2015.

Pitt had 20 points and nine rebounds, Caleb Kennemur added 10 points, Reilly Evans chipped in eight points and Xavier Cox-Dunlap totaled six points and five rebounds for the Tigers.

Zaquavious Price had 17 of his 25 points in the second half, Keaston Lawrence added 11 points, Evan Wood chipped in nine points and Jeff Pettus finished with seven points for the Mustangs, who outscored Whitewright 20-5 in the fourth quarter.

Almost all of those points came at the line. Chisum was 16-of-19 on free throws in the fourth, including 7-of-8 by Price.

Cox-Dunlap had a putback to open the final quarter to extend Whitewright's lead to 46-39. The Mustangs followed with a 10-0 run for their first lead with just over three minutes to go.

"It was a rough stretch," Trotter said. "We had some looks, we just couldn't knock them down."

In that stretch Chisum had both of its baskets, including a three-point play by Wood that started it and a Price layin after a steal for a 49-46 advantage.

Xy-rion Daniels made a free throw with 2:35 remaining, shooting for Cox-Dunlap who was given a technical foul after he was fouled hard and then pushed the defender off him under the basket.

"That was a swing moment. I think it took the wind out of our sails," Trotter said. "But we still had a couple of chances after that."

Price hit one of the free throws and it was 50-47. Evans had a putback with 1:51 to go and Whitewright was down 50-49 but the Tigers never scored again and the Mustangs went 9-of-10 at the line to close out the comeback.

Whitewright could have had a bigger lead at the end of third quarter but Price nailed a three from the left corner with 10 seconds remaining in the frame for a 44-39 contest to counter back-to-back baskets from Pitt and Kennemur that had given Whitewright its largest lead at eight points.

The Tigers were up six after a Kennemur jumper with 2:39 to go in the quarter. Price followed with a three-pointer to chop the lead in half.

The Tigers took a 29-26 half-time advantage. Twice in the final two minutes Chisum got within a point. Wood and Price had consecutive layups to make it a 24-23 margin but Kennemur answered with a three-pointer.

When Espn Blyton hit his only shot, a three with 34 seconds left in the half, to get it back to a one-point deficit, Kayden Carraway's putback in the closing seconds provided some breathing room.

Whitewright quickly jumped to a 6-0 lead as Kennemur, Cox-Dunlap and Pitt hit shots in the first two minutes. It would be another minute before Chisum made a basket, a three by Lawrence, but the Tigers maintained the advantage and led 14-12 after the first quarter as Pitt hit a pair of three-pointers — the latter with a minute to go in the frame after Price connected from deep.

Levi Weems made his only basket at the first-quarter buzzer — a straightaway three — to pull Chisum within a pair.

Region quarterfinals

Class 3A Region II

Paris Chisum                   59

Whitewright                      49