Lubbock Monterey did just enough down the stretch to steal one from Abilene Cooper on the road Friday night at Cougar Gym.
The Plainsmen outscored Cooper 6-0 in the final 1:38 to edge the Cougars 40-37 in the District 4-5A boys basketball game.
“They’re a great team,” Monterey coach Josh Davis said of Cooper. “They’ve played well all year. It showed to come down to the last minute and a half to decide the win tonight. Neither team was going to quit or back down, and it showed with the flow of the game.”
It took a scrappy play in a defensive slugfest to put the Plainsmen on top down the stretch. Carter Bovkoon grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for the go-ahead points at 38-37 with 1:15 left in the game.
“I was really proud of them to get that last rebound and put us over the top and then execute the last 30 seconds,” Davis said.
Cooper missed four shots in the final 1:48, including a short jumper by Jaelyn Rivera off an offensive rebound that would have given the Coogs a 39-34 lead with 1:48 to go.
Cooper also turned the ball over on an inbounds pass after T.K. Young hit two free throws for a 40-37 advantage with 6.6 seconds left. Rivera missed a game-tying 3 from nearly half court at the buzzer, after Monterey’s Zyrin Brantley missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
“We played our guts out, played tough like we have all year,” Cooper coach Bryan Conover said. “We struggled to score the ball, had a couple of costly turnovers towards the end of the game there. Give credit to them. They made some big plays, got a couple of offensive rebounds on us and hurt us.”
Brantley led Monterey (15-8 overall, 3-0 district) with 10 points, including six in the fourth quarter. Kash Lewis and Bovkoon added six each.
Rivera had a game-high 11 points for Cooper (11-8, 1-1), while Maxwell Falade followed with eight. Zavian Alexander had six.
The loss, coupled with Lubbock Coronado’s 68-64 win over Abilene High (9-11, 1-2), left Monterey and Coronado (13-7, 2-0) as the last unbeaten teams in league play. Wylie (9-13, 1-2) picked up its first district win, beating Lubbock High 71-38 in Abilene. Lubbock-Cooper (12-9, 1-1) had a bye.
Cooper plays at Lubbock High (3-19, 0-3) on Tuesday, while Monterey has a bye before playing Lubbock High next Friday at Monterey.
In fact, Friday’s game was the Plainsmen’s only road game in the first half of district. Five of their last six district games will all be on the road.
“So, it’s big for us to win a bunch of these (in the first half), Davis said. “The second time around, we’ve got to travel a lot and life gets a lot tougher.”
One bad quarter …
Monterey outscored the Coogs three of the four quarters, but Cooper had a big second quarter – outscoring the Plainsmen 16-8 in the frame – for a 22-18 halftime lead.
Rivera scored eight points in the quarter, hitting consecutive 3-point goals to give the Coogs their first lead at 17-13 with 3:45 to play in the half.
It capped a stretch where Cooper outscored Monterey 15-5 starting from the last 1:24 of the first quarter.
Lewis opened the second half with consecutive treys to spark an 8-0 run to put Monterey back on top 26-22.
Cooper responded, and the teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 29.
The Coogs had their last lead at 37-34 following Jordan Willis’ basket with 3:49 to play. They wouldn’t score again.
“The second (quarter), it was bad enough for us it almost cost us,” Davis said. “I was proud of our guys responding the second half, especially the fourth quarter. Going in (the fourth) tied, all we had to do was win the quarter. We executed the last minute and half to get the win tonight.”
It was a frustrating loss for the two-time defending district champion Coogs.
“I’m not upset with our guys,” Conover said. “We played hard. They’re a good team. They’re picked to win our district. We gave them everything we had. We’ll have another shot at them later on down the road. Hopefully, we can pull it out next time.”
Lubbock Monterey 40, Abilene Cooper 37
Monterey … 10 … 8 … 11 … 11 – 40
Cooper … 6 … 16 … 7 … 8 – 37
LUBBOCK MONTEREY (15-8, 3-0) – Azijon Luke 4 2-5 5, Zyrin Brantley 4 2-5 10, Brandon Infante 1 0-0 3, Will Collier 1 1-2 3, Christian Williams 0 0-0 0, Kash Lewis 2 0-0 6, T.K. Young 2 3-4 5, Luke Arrington 0 0-0 0, Carter Bovkoon 3 0-0 6. Totals 15 6-11 40.
ABILENE COOPER (11-8, 1-1) – Kale Sage 1 0-0 3, Savion Vinson 1 0-0 2, Jordan Willis 1 1-2 3, Jaelyn Rivera 4 0-2 11, Maxwell Falade 3 2-3 8, Zavian Alexander 2 0-0 6, Kam Gray 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 3-7 37.
3-Point Goals – Monterey 4 (Luke, Infante, Lewis 2), Cooper 6 (Sage, Rivera 3, Alexander 2). Total Fouls – Monterey 8, Cooper 12. Fouled Out – None. Technical Fouls – Monterey: None; Cooper: Gray.