In front of a near-packed house at Kilgore High School’s gym Friday night, Kilgore and Chapel Hill staged the battle of the Bulldogs – and unfortunately for Kilgore, Chapel Hill won both.

In a pair of two key basketball games in District 16-4A, Chapel Hill first won a varsity girls game as physical as you’ll ever see, a 35-33 overtime game that ended only when Kilgore missed the final shot. Kilgore’s boys also lost a very low-scoring game, 37-34, that came down to the final seconds.

Both teams will be back in action Tuesday night at Bullard, starting with subvarsity games at 5 p.m.

Sabine’s boys and girls both won over Winona, and are home against White Oak on Tuesday.

Chapel Hill 38, Kilgore 35 (girls): The Lady Bulldogs really needed the game to make sure of a trip to the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A postseason. They needed to win one of their last two regular season games to be sure to get in.

Now, they’ll have to do that on the road at Bullard Tuesday night. A win gets the Lady ‘Dogs into the playoffs. A loss could mean as much as a three-way tie in the district with Henderson and Spring Hill.

Miah Thomas had 20 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals for Kilgore against Chapel Hill. Skye Cotton had five points and five rebounds, and Keke Roy had five and three rebound.

It was simply a low-scoring, intense affair that had the crowd – particularly the home crowd, there to watch not only basketball, but the KHS Hi-Steppers, who performed later in the night – standing by the fourth quarter.

It was only 8-5 Chapel Hill at the end of the first quarter, and 13-9 at the half: not many misses from the floor, just good defense and some turnover issues for both teams. That would be a theme of the contest.

Kilgore took its first lead on a bucket by Jada Abercrombie with 6:01 left in the third quarter, although Chapel Hill would come right back; D.J. Kincade knocked down a three-pointer just a few seconds after, putting CHHS back in front.

The game was so physical and full of bumping that it just about turned into a free throw shooting contest between Thomas and Chapel Hill’s Brittley Maddox.

Kilgore had three players to foul out down the stretch: first Na’Kayla Hooper, then Abercrombie, and then in overtime, with 11 seconds left, Thomas, trying to knock the ball away from Maddox.

The finish of regulation went this way: after a steal by Thomas, Roy hit a basket with 16 seconds left that gave Kilgore a 32-31 lead. Chapel Hill’s Aniya Williams got the ball after the score and ran the length of the floor, and Maddox tied the game seconds later by hitting one of two free throws. She missed the second one.

Kilgore got possession, but turned it over. Chapel Hill missed a final shot that would’ve won, and the buzzer sounded to end regulation.

In overtime, Roy tied the game at 35 with one free throw, and both teams were somewhat sloppy with the ball, turning it over at both ends. Alexia Rogers hit a basket with 1:11 left that gave Chapel Hill a 37-35 advantage, and then Ty’Liyah Moore hit a free throw to make it 38-35.

Kilgore got one more shot, but had to rush the potential buzzer-beater and it fell short, as the game ended.

Chapel Hill 37, Kilgore 34 (boys): In a strange twist, at least for a basketball game, there were no lead changes in this contest – Chapel Hill’s Tyson Berry scored the first basket of the game, eight seconds in, and even though Kilgore got within a point twice, the Bulldogs never led.

In fact, even Chapel Hill’s largest lead of the game was six (28-22, in the early fourth quarter), on the strength of a three-point shot to open the last quarter.

Like the girls, both teams were aggressive and the game intense from the start. The one problem for Kilgore: senior Jeremiah Hoskins, one of Kilgore’s best scoring options and a three-year starter, got into foul trouble early, largely just due to banging around.

Hoskins picked up foul number three with 2:38 left in the first half on an and-one play on Kevjun Thomas. Thomas missed the free throw after the bucket, but then Chapel Hill came right at Hoskins again just under a minute later and he was called for another foul – his fourth, with 1:53 to play in the first half.

Kilgore coach Jeff Coleman pulled Hoskins for the remainder of the half, but thanks to some strategy by Chapel Hill, Hoskins’ foul situation wouldn’t end up coming into play.

That’s because, with a razor-thin 19-18 lead at the halftime break, Chapel Hill coach A.J. Johnson decided to slow down the game. At the opening of the second half, Johnson had his guards stand back just over their side of midcourt, just allowing the clock run (Sabine fans, think back to when Wimberly did this in a regional tournament game about a decade ago).

Chapel Hill ran the first 2 ½ minutes off the third-quarter clock, tried to score, and got it (a bucket by Jared Jones), and then when they got the ball back, they did it again on their second possession of the half.  They failed on the second one. Kilgore had scored, too, and remained within one, 21-20.

The teams exchanged free throws the remainder of the abbreviated third quarter, and it finished with Chapel Hill up, 25-22.

As mentioned, Chapel Hill hit the three to start the fourth quarter, and Kilgore kept pace – Jake Thompson hit an and-one play for two, but missed the free throw, keeping the Bulldogs within two (28-26), and then on the trip back, Thompson hit another basket and tied the game at 28 with 4:56 left.

Hoskins, who wouldn’t foul out, hit a pair of free throws with 3:30 left that got Kilgore back within a point (31-30). Jones hit a bucket to make it a three-point game (33-30), and Kilgore’s C.J. Ingram kept the Bulldogs within one again, 33-32, with 2:14 left.

A couple of turnovers, though, did the Bulldogs in – Chapel Hill scored off them both, one with 42 seconds left that made it 35-32, and then another with 10 seconds left that led to the game’s final score, fittingly by Berry, who opened the game with a basket.

Ingram finished with 11 to lead Kilgore in one of the lowest-scoring games of the year. Thompson finished with 10, and Hoskins with five. Thomas Hattaway and senior Rowdy Rieke each had three and Bryson Parker had two.

Also for Kilgore, Hoskins had three rebounds and a steal; Thompson had three rebounds; Parker had two; Ingram had four rebounds and two steals; Hattaway had three rebounds and blocked two shots; and Rieke had three rebounds and a steal.

Unlike the girls, the game Tuesday at Bullard isn’t the regular season finale for the Bulldogs. They’ve got one more after that. They’re open next Friday, Feb. 14, and then finish the regular season at Henderson on Feb. 18.

It was senior night at Kilgore for both girls and boys, as all were introduced for the crowd. For the Lady Bulldogs, recognized seniors were Jada Abercrombie, Allgah Colbert, and Sabrina Hardt. For the Bulldogs, seniors recognized were Jeremiah Hoskins, Rowdy Rieke and Kaden Thrower.

Sabine: Coach Sara Cantrell’s Sabine Lady Cardinals have decided to finish the regular season strong.

Sabine won again on Friday, whipping Winona, 63-28. The Lady Cards are 20-9 overall, 11-2 in District 16-3A play, and will finish the regular portion of the season Tuesday at home against White Oak, starting at 5 p.m. That’s senior night at Sabine.

Against Winona, it was 16 points from Blaire Kaufman, and 15 from Mikinzi Cantrell. Maddie Furrh had nine points and Mercedes Willett had five, as did Mallory Furrh.

Halyn McKenzie, Hailey Davis and Aubree McCann each had four and Ally Gresham had one.

Sabine’s boys also beat Winona, 40-37, although there was no other information available at press time for this story on that game. The Cardinals are 6-5 in district play with three games left: at home against White Oak Tuesday night, at home against Harmony next Friday, and then West Rusk on Feb. 18.

The boys district race is a logjam except Arp, who is 11-0 and looks to have the district title wrapped up. Three more teams will go to the 3A playoffs in addition to Arp.

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