Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Phil Forte sinks key free throws; Flower Mound Marcus holds off Fort Bend Travis for 5A state title
Senior Forte sinks six free throws in final minute to cap rally
AUSTIN — All Flower Mound Marcus had left to do was make the free throws. To beat Fort Bend Travis, to win its 115th game in the last three seasons, to clinch a second consecutive 5A state title, it had to make a few free throws. And anyone who watches Phil Forte knew completing that task wouldn’t be a problem.
Flower Mound Marcus 56, Fort Bend Travis 52. One of the best area high school teams in recent memory finished its run on top, exactly where its players knew they had to be.
“It wasn’t going to be easy to get past us,” senior Marcus Smart said. “This was a business trip for us.”
In the last minute of the game, Forte made six free throws, extending what had been a one-point lead. With him on the line, Marcus had a measure of comfort, a far cry from the manner in which it entered the fourth quarter. Fort Bend Travis had taken a lead into halftime after a 3-pointer by Andrew Harrison. It led at the start of the fourth 38-34.
But Flower Mound Marcus had been here before, trailing to another good team, reaching that point where another group of high school basketball players might panic, rush shots or make silly fouls, do something that would stray it from victory. This time the scenario was arguably more daunting: Smart was in foul trouble from the second quarter on, as was A.J. Luckey.
Yet when the fourth quarter started, Marcus did what it has done throughout the last three years. Nick Banyard scored six quick points and gave Marcus the lead back at 42-40. It wouldn’t trail again, Forte especially finishing Travis. His pull-up jumper made it 50-47, and from there he made his six free throws.
Though Marcus won the title last year, Forte struggled in the title game, shooting 1-for-12. He also scored just three points against South Grand Prairie last week in the regional final.
“I was really motivated to get back here,” said Forte, who was named MVP and had 24 points. “I wanted to prove myself to everybody.”
After his free throws, a missed opportunity for Travis and the final horn, the scene was blissfully similar to last year for Marcus. Its bench emptied onto the floor, its sizable crowd stayed to watch, and Smart threw the basketball as high into the air as he could, completing his trademark back flip as it floated above.
Staff Writers Corbett Smith and Matt Wixon contributed to this report.