Rouse, Vista Ridge get statement wins

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With less than a month left in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. And a slew of local teams are jockeying for position.  

Vista Ridge cemented itself in the race for a top spot with a dramatic 62-59 overtime win over Leander on Friday. Rouse won two games, including topping Cedar Park 40-37 on Tuesday to push its wining streak to six games. 

“Winning the ballgame is huge because you’ve got to beat everybody underneath you,” Vista Ridge head coach Clint Anderson said. “But getting one from someone above us allows us the opportunity to even shoot for the second or third spot in the district.”

Leander (15-8, 5-2) is currently in third place in District 25-6A with Vista Ridge (19-8, 5-3) is nipping at their heels. Vandegrift (9-17, 2-6) needs some help to get in the playoffs and plays three of the current top four teams in its final four games. 

Cedar Park (10-8, 6-4) is hanging onto the fourth playoff spot in District 19-5A and had won three straight games before falling to Rouse (21-8, 9-2) on Tuesday. 

Kyle Mitchell (13.8 ppg) and Michael Forster (11.8 ppg) have helped Rouse accomplish multiple firsts this season in 5A, wining a pair of pre-district tournaments and sweeping Cedar Park for the first time in school history.” 

“We weren’t in the district with them when we were in 6A and we weren’t able to do that,” Rouse head coach Shane Krause said. “The progress we’re making is amazing. This team continues to amaze me.”

Leander looked like it was going to pull away on Friday, and extended its lead to as much as 13 points in the third quarter, but the Lions couldn’t hit free throws and Vista Ridge hit a couple 3-pointers to cut the lead to five points with three minutes left. 

Aaron Gregg forced a turnover and hit a 3-pointer to make it a one point game and Bryant Burton hit a layup to tie the game at 54 with five seconds left. 

In overtime, Kobe Thompson and Chase Cotton, two of Leander’s top scorers and starters fouled out, but the Lions continued to fight when Kristian Murphy tied the game, but Gregg once again took control and hit a floater that ended up being the game-winner. 

“Nobody came out with intensity except Aaron,” Anderson said. “He’s bought into his leadership role and we ran it well. He knows how to talk to the refs and he can calm down the other guys. I hope that continues moving forward.”

Cedar Park is at Georgetown on Friday and at Hutto next Tuesday before ending the year next Friday at home against Elgin and Rouse is at Pflugerville Connally Friday before hosting Hutto on Tuesday night. 

The Rangers look to continue their run traveling to Lake Travis and hosting No. 13 Westlake next week and Vandegrift hosts Vista Ridge and Lake Travis in two of its last three games. Leander hopes to rebound by playing three of its final five games at home. 

“We were in a great spot to win and we just didn’t finish,” Leander head coach Clint Bradley said. “We have to understand that this kind of loss needs to drive us and not set us back. With the kind of team that we have with our experience, we won’t let it get to us.”

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