Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Comeback kids: Ponder erases 14-point third quarter deficit to take 2A title over Tatum
AUSTIN — Every time Ponder made a run against Tatum in Saturday’s Class 2A state final, it seemed the Eagles would answer with a bigger one.
However, in the closing minutes of the third quarter, Ponder went on a run that Tatum finally had no answer for and stormed to a 66-56 win in front of 10,537 to claim the program’s fifth state championship and first since 2010.
“It’s extremely difficult to find words to describe what just happened, but I’ll do my best. We are very blessed,” Ponder coach Jude Stanley said.
“Our kids are resilient. We were down 13 [in the third quarter]. We just told them they had to stack some stops on top of each other, and we’d be fine if they’d play defense.”
In the final three minutes of the third quarter, Ponder (32-7) started a 17-2 run to take a 48-47 lead with 7:03 remaining after Cameron Sallee’s layup off a stolen inbounds pass followed Brady Anderson’s 3-pointer.
With the Lions playing without freshman long-range threat Chase Harris, who scored a game-high 20 points in Friday’s semifinal win despite suffering a broken nose and concussion, Stanley needed others to step up in the scoring department.
Reserve guard Logan McCarty, the normal sixth man who started in Harris’ place, scored 14 points. Anderson, a sophomore point guard who scored just two points Friday, struggled in the first half Saturday, shooting 1-for-7 from the field with just two points.
But in the second half, he was 6-of-7 shooting, made two 3-pointers and finished with 19 points while getting to the basket at will late in the game.
“I just played my game,” Anderson said. “I kept doing what I was doing in the first half. It was just falling for me [in the second half].”
Like most other Ponder opponents, Tatum (35-5) had no answer inside for forward Clay Morgan. The 6-6 senior finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds and added a historic basket late in the game.
Nursing a four-point lead, Morgan missed a shot under the basket, grabbed his own rebound and put up another one, despite being fouled. The shot fell, and the ensuing free throw was his 2,000th career point to give Ponder a 58-51 lead with 2:18 remaining.
Morgan, who was named the game’s most valuable player, finished his career with 2,003 points.
“I wasn’t even thinking about that at all,” Morgan said. “I just knew we had to win this game. I don’t really know what to say. I’m so tired.”
Tatum’s man-to-man pressure defense did that, and it built the Eagles a 16-7 lead after the first quarter and an eight-point halftime lead. An intentional foul in the third quarter resulted in a seven-point swing in 15 seconds to put the Lions down by 13 points.
Tatum coach Brett Carr said he was surprised to see his team in foul trouble, as Ponder was shooting in the double-bonus before the third quarter came to a close. Tatum was whistled for 27 fouls; Ponder committed 16.