FCA ALL-STAR BASKETBALL: South boys storm past North, 79-66

Mike Lee / Special to the Bulletin
Early’s Chase Riker (34) attempts a reverse layup during the second half of the South’s 79-66 victory over the North in the FCA All-Star Festival boys basketball game Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum. Riker finished with one point. INSET: Former Brownwood and current Breckenridge head coach Josh Alcorn guided the South to a come-from-behind victory, as the North squad led by 12 points at one point.

The South spent much of the night chipping away at a double-digit deficit. Finally, the chipping paid off.

The South rallied past the North, 79-66, in Thursday night’s Big Country FCA All-Star Festival Boys Basketball Game as Most Valuable Player Mike Lopez of Abilene Wylie scored 21 points. Lopez scored five points in a 32-second span that secured the rally as the South closed the game played at the Brownwood Coliseum on a 24-6 run.

“We started really slow with our shooting. We were awful,” said Lopez, who also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out four assists. “We just kept chipping away. We tried to play good defense. We knew our shots would eventually start falling.

“We got some easy baskets in transition, and we started getting more offensive rebounds and that led to some easy baskets. We slowed it down a little on offense and started looking for the open shots,” Lopez said.

The South, which fell behind 10-3 at the start, never led until guard Cutter Smith of Eula nailed a 3-point goal for a 62-60 lead with 5:37 to play. The South’s initial lead was short-lived as guard Matthew Lowry of Blackwell made a put-back that pulled the North even at 62-62 with 5:23 left.

However, Lowry’s was the only field goal made by the North over the final 10 minutes. During the South’s final rally, the North missed eight of nine field goal attempts and eight of 14 free throw attempts.

A free throw by guard Jesus Leanos of Roscoe gave the North its last lead, 63-62, with 5:10 remaining. Forward Christian Nichols of Wylie swished a 3-pointer from the corner, Smith followed with a 15-foot jump shot, and guard Jordan Everitt of San Angelo Lake View made a bucket to give the South a 72-65 lead with 2:12 left.

“We started passing the ball better and being more active on the defensive end,” said Everitt, who finished with eight points and six rebounds. “At halftime, we talked about being here for a reason: to play the game we love to play.”

Lopez added two driving layups, plus a free throw for a three-point play after the second layup, to clinch the game with a 77-66 South lead with 1:27 to go.

Nichols added 13 points and Smith finished with eight for the South. Six-foot-3 forward Luke Parmer of Christoval finished with nine rebounds and six points.

Guard Chase Riker of Early scored one point for the South. He was 0-of-2 from the field, both on 3-point attempts, and 1-of-2 on free throws.

“When we were 10 or 11 points behind, we talked about just continuing to chip away at their lead,” said South coach Josh Alcorn, who coached at Brownwood last season but is moving to Breckenridge. “We finally started getting some stops on defense, and we told them their shots would eventually start falling. Once we hit a couple of 3s (by Smith and Nichols), we really got rolling.”

John Thomas Harris, a 6-6 forward from the Abilene Hawks, scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds for the North. Guard Caleb Spoon of Breckenridge posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

With Harris scoring nine first-half points, the North built a 41-32 halftime lead. Guard Darian Bradford of Abilene High made two short jumpers during a 9-3 North run to close the first half.

Back-to-back 3-point shots by Spoon and guard Malik Taylor of Stephenville extended the North’s lead to 49-37 in the opening three minutes of the second half. The North still led 51-39 after a backdoor layup by forward Zach Carlton of Eastland with 16:27 left before the South began chipping away.

“I thought our turnovers (24 overall) and their offensive rebounds (22) turned the game around,” Spoon said. “We turned the ball over a ton in the second half. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, especially on free throws.”