MISSOURI CITY – The Elkins Knights got off to a fast start Tuesday night against Ridge Point, playing as if they’d been stewing over a home loss the previous Friday to Bush that shattered their perfect win-loss record in District 20-6A. They had been doing just that, and it showed in their 83-76 win at Hopson Fieldhouse as they improved to 11-1 and clinched a tie for the best record in 20-6A.
Ridge Point (8-4) slipped into the 4th playoff seed with their second consecutive loss, so if the season was over now, the Panthers would draw Katy Morton Ranch in their playoff opener – and no team in Fort Bend ISD would choose that.
But the season isn’t over. Two games remain, and Travis and Bush, both 9-3, will be heavily favored to win their Friday games this week; then they play each other in the regular season finale. If Ridge Point can win out (vs. Clements and Dulles), the Panthers would be tied for the third spot with either Travis or Bush, and tie-breaker procedures would determine which team gets the third and fourth seeds.
Elkins, however, doesn’t have to worry about all those scenarios. They only have to win one of their last two games against non-playoff opponents.
The Knights’ blazing-hot start in the Ridge Point game started mildly, with only a Tyler Callegari free throw in the first minute and a half. Then in a five-minute span, Elkins outscored the Panthers 20-11 including four dunks. Collin Warren had three of them: one off a steal, and two others on perfect alley-oop passes from Donovan Williams. Williams got the other slam, plus a layup. With 1:32 remaining in the first quarter, the Knights were up 20-11.
It was only that close because Ridge Point got a long Zach Gonsoulin (12 points in the game) three pointer as well as a three-point play from PJ Haggerty. The freshman phenom is still what one would call slightly built, and until nature and time put more muscle on his frame, opponents are seeing how much physical play Haggerty can absorb. He absorbs it all and keeps coming back for more, scoring a team-high 25 in the game. Isaiah LeBlanc added 18.
In the second quarter, Elkins’ Jacolbi Harris delivered a “there will be no layups tonight if I can help it” message to Haggerty with a hard foul at the end of a fast break with 3:57 left. Haggerty made both free throws and the Panthers were within 31-27. However, Williams scored in the paint less than 15 seconds later as the Knights consistently answered with key baskets whenever the Panthers got close. They expanded their halftime advantage to 45-38 with a late second quarter surge that included another Warren dunk.
Panthers’ point guard Elijah Thomas stayed on the bench with foul trouble for most of the first half, and got back onto the floor for the third quarter. He did not have his usual impact, though, exiting the game again with his fourth foul halfway through the quarter. The Knights were putting together an 11-3 run in the first five minutes of the second half to lead 56-41. The key was dominating the offensive boards, earning multiple extra chances, and making sure every Panther miss was gobbled up off the defensive glass. Going to the fourth quarter, Elkins was up 60-51.
A Haggerty three-ball got the Panthers within 74-65 with just over four minutes remaining, but Callegari then imposed his will to make sure the Knights got the lead back to double digits and kept it there until the last minute. He was fouled hard with 2:37 to go and made two free throws to lead 78-67. The Panthers clawed back before falling, 83-76.
In the opener at Hopson, the Ridge Point girls made history for their school: they completed District 20-6A play 14-0, going undefeated in district play for the first time and also winning their first-ever district title in girls’ basketball in any classification. Their 78-51 win over Bush was close, 29-26, at halftime. To start the third quarter, the Panther girls went on a 12-0 run and were never challenged thereafter.
Top seed Ridge Point along with Kempner (2), Dulles (3) and Bush (4) will face Katy ISD schools from District 19-6A in postseason play that will begin next week. Bush will face 19-6A’s top seed, the Katy Tigers, in the first round of the playoffs, but the other matchups are to be determined; a half-dozen teams under Katy in the standings, including the 4-7 Tompkins Falcons, were still alive mathematically to grad the other three playoff berths going into Tuesday night’s season-ending games.
Listen to the podcast of Tuesday’s Ridge Point-Elkins girls’ and boys’ basketball doubleheader at https://www.spreaker.com/show/fort-bend-sports-powered-by-vype. Also, listen LIVE to Friday’s boys’ game between Hightower and Willowridge, starting at 6:45 p.m. using the same link.