The 4th annual Pineywoods Showdown tipped off Thursday evening at Panther Gym in Lufkin, as all-star seniors met for one last basketball game. Boys and Girls all-stars from Nacogdoches county and Angelina county faced off for bragging rights and the right to call themselves champion for the entire year.
The girls game tipped off first, with Angelina county looking to continue their 3 year winning streak against Nacogdoches. The Angelina all-stars took control from the very beginning, and won the game by double digits, 45-28. Angelina was led by Hudson's Jade Havard, who finished with 12 points on the night.
"I was surprised because I didn't know I scored that many," said Havard, who is right in the middle of a successful softball season. "Senior night I was upset, but now, getting to come play in the all star game, it was a redemption and it was exciting."
Huntington head coach Michelle Brookshire was just happy to see the girls all get one last game on the court.
"I had a good time, they are a lot of fun to coach and they worked together real well even though they are rivals," said Brookshire. "Just to have them step on the floor one more time as seniors was pretty special."
Dayna Westbrook of Douglass was in charge of bringing together Nacogdoches county in less than a week. Westbrook emphasized that even though many of the girls are rivals, they worked well together to try and beat Angelina.
"That is the neat thing about what basketball can do, it can bring you together for different reasons even if you are rivals," said Westbrook. "I know they were nervous, and didn't feel like they played as well as they wanted, but they had a blast anyway."
Meanwhile the Angelina boys were hoping to complete the sweep Thursday night. The opening tip went to Nacogdoches and so did the rest of the first half, as they were up by 5 at the break. But the second half belonged to Angelina. In particular Zabo Houston, who hit several key three pointers and finished with 20 points on the night. Angelina used a furious defensive pace to turn over Nacogdoches several times in the second half and take control. After the dust settled, it was a closer game than many expected, but Angelina comes away with the win 73-62.
"It felt great to play so well and win, I have been waiting my whole life to do something like this and represent Angelina county," said leading scorer Zabo Houston. "I just think it is great and I give all the glory to the man above."
At practice leading up to the showdown Hudson coach Rob Peterson stressed that he did not want to be the first coach to give up the losing streak. After the game he was relieved to get the win, but also happy for the players who came together as a team so quickly. Peterson credited the great defensive effort for the win.
"We just let them have fun and play free and made sure to get after them on defense," said Peterson. "I think they had a good time I'm glad they did get to play one last time, on top of the win too."
The Nacogdoches boys did lose for a fourth straight year, but head coach Mark Leuschner stressed that they had nothing to hang their heads about after keeping the game so close throughout.
"Our kids were great tonight, I'm very proud of them because they were excited and competitive and we had a chance to win," said Leuschner. "I know that they are disappointed in losing but they are going to look back and think this is a wonderful time and a great opportunity."
For now Nacogdoches will have to wait another year before trying to dethrone Angelina and their four year winning streak.
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