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Held scoreless for the first five minutes of the game and trailing by 18 at the half, the Aledo Bearcats scored 30 points in the third quarter and held Paschal to 24 points for the entire second half to come back and defeat the Class 5A Panthers, 62-55, Friday afternoon at the Granbury tournament.
At the Decatur tournament, the Ladycats defeated Sanger Friday afternoon to reach the tournament's championship game. Tip off at the title game will be at 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 12, at Decatur High School.
The Bearcats trailed 31-13 at the break, but outscored the Panthers 30-10 in the third period to take a 43-41 lead into the fourth quarter. Aledo senior guard Ryan Talley, who led the team with 25 points, scored 18 points in the third while junior guard Robbie Spreier added 12 as the pair accounted for all of the Bearcats points in the period.
Bearcats head coach Jeff Carroll said he did not really give a fire-and-brimstone speech at the half, nor was there a drastic change in strategy.
"I just told the kids that we weren't playing the way we needed to play," Carroll said. "They know if they play the way we want them to play they will be successful. We tried to force the game in the first half instead of letting the game come to us. We just played aggressive and hard in the second half and the game came to us.
"Our defense is what makes us go," Carroll continued, "and getting turnovers and rebounds helped us come back. We have to be athletes and do what we do well. But an individual who may have sparked us was Pierce Gentry, a sophomore. He came in at the end of the second quarter and he didn't let (Paschal posts) push him around.
"I loved seeing that, and that, if anything, sparked us. We got stops late in the second quarter and then we started pressing them in the third quarter and that really got us going."
The turning point of the game occurred halfway through the third period with the Bearcats trailing 39-27. Aledo forced Paschal to turn the ball over on four consecutive trips down the court, and all four times AHS scored baskets as Spreier hit three of the four - including a three-pointer - and Talley added another as the Bearcats cut the Panthers' lead to 39-36 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
After Talley grabbed a rebound on Paschal's ensuing possession, he drove the length of the court and was fouled. The senior canned a pair from the charity stripe to cut the Panthers' dwindling lead to 39-38.
With 1:36 left in the third, Spreier connected on a three-point bucket to tie the contest, 41-41. Talley closed the third-period scoring with two free throws as Aledo took a 43-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Paschal came back to take a 50-49 lead halfway through the quarter. But Spreier - who finished with 17 points - was left alone at the top of the key, and he drained a trey to give the Bearcats the lead for good.
Also scoring for the Bearcats were Matt Barron with 12 points, Shane Smith with four, Blake Reynolds with three and Dillon Huerta with one.