Vandegrift wouldn’t let a down offensive night sink its playoff chances.
The Vipers held on for a dramatic 41-37 win at Leander Tuesday night to keep their playoff hopes alive with two games left in the regular season. The Lions, meanwhile, dropped their second straight game after having a game off.
“Any district win is special, but this is big because it keeps us alive,” Vandegrift head coach Cliff Ellis said. “We needed at least one win to get us going. I’m proud of the kids and how they fought and we had to win a different style.”
Vandegrift is tied with Lehman for fifth place in District 25-6A at 3-6 and hosts Vista Ridge on Friday night. They travel to last place Hays on Feb. 10 before hosting Lake Travis in the regular season finale on Feb. 14. Leander is in a three-way tie for second with Lake Travis and Vista Ridge with a 5-3 district record.
Greg Brown III led the way with 19 points for Vandegrift while Alex Fernandes scored nine points and Justin Florence chipped in with four points. Chase Cotton scored 10 points for Leander, Kobe Thompson added eight. Kristian Murphy and Dalton Flowers each scored six.
“Both teams battled,” Leander head coach Clint Bradley said. “Both teams guarded decently, but we just didn’t shoot well and that happens. We go up by one with a minute left and come down and foul them. We’ve got to do better than that.”
Brown III scored the first six points of the game for Vandegrift and the Vipers lead 11-7 after the first quarter. Despite a valiant push by Leander in the second quarter, Vandegrift continued its run and hit a last-second layup to take a two-point lead into the break.
The third quarter was a slog, to say the least. Vandegrift scored just one point in the quarter and Leander scored four. The teams combined to hit just one field goal and the Lions led 26-25.
“We haven’t scored that few points in a long time,” Ellis said. “Defensively, we got after it and that’s what it took to win tonight.”
Flowers scored four points and Murphy hit a big 3-pointers for Leander in the final quarter, but the Lions still opted to force Vandegrift to make free throws. The Vipers were 7-of-13 from the charity stripe and held on to snap their two-game skid.
While the Vipers have just three games left, the Lions have four games remaining in the regular season. They’ll look to end the skid on the road against Hays Friday night before hosting Lake Travis next Tuesday.
“We’ve got a very experienced team that have been through all the ups and downs,” Bradley said. “We’ve got to have a short memory and fix all thing things we didn’t do. It’s a matter of just getting the job done in the second half and we’ve got to find a way to do it and we will.”
Ellis echoed the famous ‘Survive and advance’ quip from former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, whose team won the National Championship in 1983 as huge underdogs.
“It’s easier to get the kids fired up,” Ellis said. “We can just tell them their backs are against the wall and they’ve got to win. It’s easy motivation in the locker room and in practice to keep the kids kind of hungry. We’re still alive and kicking.”
HS BOYS BASKETBALL
Cedar Creek 44, Cedar Park 40
Rouse 47, Georgetown 43
Vandegrift 41, Leander 37
Lampasas 97, Glenn 20
HS GIRLS BASKETBALL
Cedar Park 63, Cedar Creek 33
Vandegrift 54, Leander 32
Rouse 56, Georgetown 44