GLEN ROSE — As far as Glen Rose basketball coach Owen Clifton is concerned, his team’s postseason began Tuesday night against District 8-4A foe Venus, and the Tigers answered the bell with a 54-52 victory at Tiger Arena.
“For us, we played it like a playoff game,” Clifton said. “We knew if we lost, we’d be out. We put ourselves in a good position, and we have to get two more wins, and any more than that would be insurance.”
With the win, the Tigers improve to 10-20 overall, and more importantly, 3-5 in district play. Currently, the Tigers are tied with Godley (16-10, 3-5) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the district. Glen Rose won the first meeting 47-40, and they will meet Feb. 9 in Glen Rose’s final home game of the regular season.
The Tigers travel to district leader Midlothian Heritage (25-6, 8-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m. before hosting Alvarado (11-16, 1-6) Feb. 6. Glen Rose then hosts Godley before closing out the regular season at Waxahachie Life School (26-7, 6-2).
Godley meets Life School on Friday and Stephenville on Tuesday before traveling to Glen Rose. The Bulldogs close out the regular season with Venus on Feb. 13.
“We have to get two, and we know which two we need to get,” Clifton said. “We’ve got to keep grinding and fighting.”
In the win over the Bulldogs, sophomore guard Kasen Keese came off the bench and scored a team-high 13 points, and seven came in the final 2:14 of the contest.
Glen Rose trailed by five points heading into the final quarter, but less than two minutes the Tigers took the lead at 40-39 behind a 3-pointer by Kolton Mooney and buckets by Logan Thames and Drayden James, who finished with 12 in the game.
The game was tied or the lead changed hands five more times in the next four minutes before Keese gave the Tigers the lead for good at 49-46 with a 3-pointer — his third of the game — with 2:14 left.
“He’s a shooter and that’s why we’ve got him in there,” Clifton said. “He had been struggling and that’s why he wasn’t in the starting line up and then he came off the bench and hit some great shots for us and some big free throws. I was proud of him to see him to get out of his slump.”
Following his triple, Keese hit two foul shots with 1:42 left to extend the lead to five, and then he hit two more with 25.8 seconds left to push the lead to four.
The Bulldogs hit their 10th 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to one at 53-52 with 5.4 seconds left. Jett Gould hit 1 of 2 foul shots to make it 54-52 before Venus’ final heave fell short.
The Tigers started slow and trailed 10-3 less than three minutes into the game, but a bucket by Issac Emerson with 1:48 left in the quarter tied the score at 13-13. The Bulldogs, however, answered with five straight points to end the quarter to lead 18-13.
Venus led by at many as six points at 23-17 with 5:35 to go in the second quarter, but they wouldn’t score again the rest of the half.
James began the Tigers’ 11-0 run with a bucket followed by a basket by Austin Worthen to cut the lead to two at 23-21 with 4:22 left. Following 1 of 2 foul shots by Emerson, Mooney gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 24-23 with a hoop with two minutes remaining.
Emerson added another foul shot with a minute to go to push the lead to two before Keese connected on a 3-ball at the buzzer to give the Tigers the 28-23 advantage at the break. Glen Rose, however, managed just five points in the third quarter and trailed 38-33 going into the final quarter.
Behind Keese and James, Worthen finished with seven points and Thames and Emerson added six each, while Mooney and Gould had five apiece.
We got some good transition points and we have not been doing that,” Clifton said. “We were finishing and getting to the free throw line. It was nice to see.”