Pony Express: Mustangs victorious against Wakeland
CARROLLTON -- Close games are almost always determined at the charity stripe and Friday night's contest between Carrollton Creekview and Frisco Wakeland was no different.
The Mustangs made the most of their foul shots in the late-going and the Wolverines shot just 37 percent from the line to ultimately give Creekview a 64-61 home victory in each team's third district game of the season.
"You're not going to win many games when you shoot 37 percent from the free-throw line," said Brent Benningfield, Wakeland head coach.
The duo of junior guard Ali Zia and senior point guard Stephen Buckner converted a majority of Creekview's fourth-quarter free throws after the Mustangs got into the double bonus midway through the frame.
Zia hit seven shots from the foul line in the fourth while Buckner buried five over the final two frames and two in the final minute.
"We haven't been able to do that very often this year," said Jonathan Ellis, Creekview head coach. "Fortunately we finished those tonight."
Zia and Buckner combined for 21 points in the game to become two of four Mustangs in double figures for the game.
It was all Creekview in the opening quarter Friday as the Mustangs stormed out to a 10-point lead after eight minutes of play in front of their home crowd.
The outside shooting of junior Justin Cueto, who sank three consecutive 3-pointers in the frame, gave Creekview a 17-7 advantage heading into the second stanza.
"I thought we were really focused early on," Ellis said.
However, the Wolverines turned the tables in the second and put up 21 points in the quarter to trim the deficit to only two points at the break.
For Wakeland, it was the play of sophomore guard Sean Watkins that kept the team in contention. The junior hit three shots from downtown in the second to single-handedly bring the game back to a one-possession affair.
"He did exactly what we needed him to do," Benningfield said. "He was able to get a few open looks after getting it inside and he knocked it down when he had an open shot."
Watkins finished the game with a team-high 15 points after draining five shots from beyond the arc.
However, the sophomore guard was held scoreless in the third after Creekview began playing tighter defense from the three-point line.
The Wolverines still managed to sink 10 shots from downtown on the night though and that accuracy from deep allowed Wakeland to go toe-to-toe with the Mustangs until the final seconds.
A back-and-forth pace in the third ultimately ended in a 45-45 affair with only eight minutes remaining in the game.
That's when things turned ugly for Wakeland, as the Wolverines failed to convert time after time from the charity stripe and eventually ran out of time and opportunities.
After a bucket from Creekview senior Chris Weatherd, who finished with 14 points on the night, in the final 30 seconds put the Mustangs ahead by three points, the Wolverines had one last shot at tying it at 64 apiece and sending the game into overtime.
However, a last-second prayer wouldn't fall and Wakeland failed to earn its tenth win of the season, falling to 9-11 on the year.
More importantly, the Wolverines now find themselves at 1-2 in District 9-4A action this season and will now face cross-town rival Frisco Liberty Tuesday night in a key matchup.
The win improved Creekview's season mark to 13-10 and kept the Mustangs unbeaten in district play this season.
The team will put its 3-0 mark against 9-4A counterparts on the line Tuesday at 8 p.m. when the Mustangs hit the road to take on Frisco High School.