A spot in the fourth- and fifth-grade semi-finals was on the line Feb. 7 when the Tigers and Blue Devils faced-off. An up-and-down contest came down to the fourth quarter with the Tigers pulling out the narrow 23-19 win at Langston Hughes Elementary.
"We really rebounded and shot well," Tiger Michael Omon said. "But we needed to work on passing the ball."
The scoring started off at a slow pace with neither team able to lay up a shot until almost halfway through the quarter. Connor Henrichs opened the game for the Tigers, landing a two pointer. Henrichs kept the heat on, banking another shot for the Tigers. The Blue Devils just couldn't slip past the defense and the Tigers took an early lead.
Omon kept the train rolling, hammering home a shot, followed up by another bucket from Alex Trent. The Devils finally got on the board when Jacob Seratte broke up the dominance of the Tigers with a layup. Josh Hess finished out the scoring for the quarter with the Devils' second goal of the game.
Already behind, the Blue Devils had a hard time finding the bottom of the net to start the second. The Tigers were in the same boat as both teams glanced shot after shot off the rim. Trent took a running dive and sunk the ball to get the offense going.
The Tigers dominated the boards in the second. Despite keeping the Blue Devils scoreless in the second, the Tigers were only able to land two shots and a free throw, so at the end of the second the door was still open for the Devils, who trailed by 11 points at the break.
Both offenses caught fire after the half. The Tigers again came out firing, but Serrate put the Devils back on the radar after hitting an easy free throw. Adam Rea's three-point play began a huge offensive onslaught for the Devils. Rea followed up with another shot and managed to sink one final bucket before the third-quarter buzzer sounded, the Tigers still ahead 19-12, but not as comfortably.
Both teams turned up the heat a couple notches going into the fourth as the Devils looked to get the come from behind victory, while the Tigers mercilessly defended its lead.
As the clock ticked down both teams kicked it into high gear. Josh Hess hit one for the Devils, answering Omon's bucket. Both teams relied on time outs and fouls to stop the clock, but the Devils couldn't usurp the Tigers, losing 23-19.
"It was suspenseful," Tiger Narito Mendez said. "It was down to the last second. But, we did a good job with our scoring."
Blue Devil Thomas Boatwright said although they played well, there is always room for improvement.
"We got some passes in," he said. "We got a lot of rebounds. But, we could be getting better shows off and stopping the ball."
"I told the kids, if you don't worry about the score you'll do great," Blue Devils coach Steve Serrate said. "We played hard the whole time out there. We down by 13 at one point, then we were down by six. They did a great job."