Nixon-Smiley broke out of a stone-cold slump with a fast and furious fourth period, but just ran out of time to catch the Navarro Panthers in Tuesday’s opening round of the Nixon-Smiley Tournament as the Mustangs lost, 45-41.
Navarro’s Rylan Ward put his team on his back in the first period as he scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the first period to push the Panthers to an 11-5 lead. The Mustangs had trouble finding the hoop early on as they could only manage a single basket and three free throws in the first period.
Early in the second period, Dustin Mejia hit a pair of three-pointers for Nixon-Smiley as part of a 6-0 run that tied the game, but the Mustangs would not hit another basket the rest of the half, getting just two free throws. The Panthers, however, would score 11 points — eight by Ward — and they took a 22-13 lead at the break.
In the third period, Navarro outscored Nixon-Smiley 15-10 to up its lead to 14 at 37-23 behind nine points from Benton Stanley. Carl White Jr. scored six of his team-high 11 points for the Mustangs in this frame.
In the final eight minutes of the game, Nixon-Smiley started using its full-court press to create turnovers. Braxton Regalado found holes in the Panther defense and scored seven of his nine points in the fourth period as the Mustangs outscored Navarro, 15-8, to close to within five points for the first time since the second quarter at 43-38 with 44.2 seconds left.
The two teams would swap scores to make it 45-40 as Nixon-Smiley had trouble getting a quick foul to stop the clock.
After a missed Navarro free throw, for some reason, the Panthers fouled Mejia with 0.08 seconds left as he tried to heave a desperation shot towards the basket, giving him three free-throw attempts. Unfortunately, he could only hit the last of the three shots to close the gap to 45-41 and Navarro was able to throw a long inbounds pass that ate up the remaining time on the clock.
In addition to White’s 11 points and Regalado’s nine, Mejia scored 10 points. Luke Moses, Brayden Martinez and David Abundis each scored three and Kade Dixon scored two.
The Mustangs were to play the Comfort Bobcats Tuesday night in their second game of the round-robin tourney.