PORT ARTHUR – Angelina College head coach Todd Neighbors has been telling his young Roadrunners all season that no lead is safe at the junior college level.
If his team didn't believe him before, it certainly does now.
The 'Runners built an 24-point lead early in the second half only to watch Lamar-Port Arthur's Seahawks roar back with a 28-7 scoring run to take a one-point lead with 4:01 to play.
But the Roadrunners proved resilient down the stretch: After Julien Bouil tied the score at 75-75, Adrick McKinney put back a Mike Timmins miss with 1:05 to play, Takoby Jackson hit a free throw at the :44 mark and the 'Runner defense clamped down over the final 10 seconds to help AC take the 78-75 win Wednesday in Port Arthur.
On the other end of the state, the Lady Roadrunners celebrated their move to No. 13 in the nation with a 69-57 win over Collin County. Tyeka Ranton scored 17 and Tiara George 14 to lead the undefeated Lady 'Runners.
On that final defensive stand in Port Arthur, the Roadrunners kept the Seahawk shooters too far outside the perimeter to allow a decent look; L-PA's Demetrius Ford finally launched a desperation heave at the buzzer that didn't come close, and the Roadrunners improved to 7-5, 2-0 on the season.
All that drama after the 'Runners appeared to have things well in hand after a spectacular first half.
"I was proud of the way our guys came out early," Neighbors said. "They were on a mission to prove themselves, and they played extremely well together as a team. One of our keys was to control the offensive rebounds; we only allowed them three the entire first half, and they're averaging 15 per game. We did a great job not allowing second shots."
McKinney led AC with 20 points and nine rebounds. Ron Steward added 14 points, including a four-for-four effort from three-point range during a three-minute, first-half span. Jackson added 13 points and 11 boards; and Joevoskie Mitchell finished with 10.
The Seahawks (8-2, 0-2) put five players in double figures, including Leviante Davis with 13 points; and Ford, Kevin Rose, Ahyaro Phillips and Gordon Ball with 12 each.
AC's Jackson did the majority of his damage in the first 20 minutes, allowing the Roadrunners to build the big lead.
"Takoby (Jackson) had an incredible first-half performance, showing leadership and helping us build a lead in a tough place to play," Neighbors said. "Adrick (McKinney) did a great job off the bench, and Travis Smith gave us some big plays while he was in the game."