Written by Corbett Smith
No. 1 Marcus boys show their mettle in win over Duncanville
CARROLLTON — In a packed Carrollton R.L. Turner gym, with long lines to get in and people turned away after the gym got to capacity, Duncanville and Flower Mound Marcus played a game fitting of the atmosphere.
Marcus held off Duncanville, 56-50, in a Class 5A Region I area round playoff game, surviving a 27-point performance by super sub Jeremy Atkins.
Nick Banyard had an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Connor Taggert with a little more than a minute remaining to preserve Marcus’ lead, and Duncanville missed its last four free throws in the final minute.
Phil Forte scored 20 points and Marcus Smart had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Marcus (34-1).
“That was a war,” Flower Mound Marcus coach Danny Henderson said. “That's just two teams giving everything they had.”
Marcus, ranked No. 1 in SportsDay’s area 5A rankings, jumped to a 15-2 lead, looking crisp and playing effectively. Five of the first six Marcus baskets were assisted.
But Duncanville — or more specifically, Atkins — shook itself out of its offensive lethargy.
Atkins scored in bunches to get his team going. He scored eight consecutive Duncanville points in the final two minutes of the first quarter, and nine in a two-minute outburst midway through the second.
Atkins, on his way to 19 points at halftime, helped Duncanville take a 25-24 lead with 2:43 left in the first half.
“Jeremy’s done that for us all year,” Duncanville coach Eric McDade said. “He's our sixth starter — he just comes off the bench for us. But he can do what he did.”
But Duncanville's offense once again became stagnant after halftime.
It went scoreless for almost eight minutes, and Marcus took advantage, gaining an 11-point lead.
Duncanville chipped away at the lead in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to two with 1:07 remaining on two free throws by Atkins. Marcus answered with the dunk from Banyard, and Forte made 4of 6 free throws to seal the win.
Marcus will play district foe Lewisville in the 5A Region I quarterfinals on Wednesday at the University of North Texas.