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HS BOYS BASKETBALL: Abilene pulls away from Lee with late run



ABILENE, TX – The Lee boys basketball team has embraced a style of playing tough, half-court defense of late.

That trend continued Tuesday night when third-place Abilene High had a tough time getting its offense going against the smaller, scrappy Rebels.

After being bogged down in a defensive battle for three quarters, the Eagles finally got going in the fourth quarter with a game-defining 13-0 run against Lee.

Center Nathan Watts scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead Abilene to a 56-42 win over the Rebels in a District 2-6A game played at the Lee High School gym.

Lee finished the first half of District 2-6A play at 7-6 overall and at 1-5 in league after being on the losing end of two defensive games, which included a 59-45 loss to Odessa Permian last week.

“We knew this was going to be tough,” Eagles head coach Justin Reese said. “Lee has been playing well. (Lee coach Doug Gordon) has been doing a great job with his guys. They’re athletic and they’re physical and they’re good rebounders. We knew this was going to be a battle when you come on the road. I felt like we did a good job early in the fourth quarter of getting some stops and steals and finally getting some easy buckets to extend the lead a little bit.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Lee believed it closed the deficit to one possession when Elijah Maxwell drove into the paint for a bucket, but he was called for a charge.

The Rebels cut Abilene’s lead to 39-35 in the fourth quarter when Lawrence Pertile sank a 3-pointer.

But Lee couldn’t get any closer.

Watts had a steal in the paint on a mishandled Rebel pass, which stopped a key Lee possession.

Following the steal on the offensive end, Watts converted a second-chance 3, extending the Eagles’ lead to 46-35.

Abilene (15-4, 4-2) finished the 13-0 run when Jackson Stevens scored on a fast-break layup following a block by Watts.

“They got a couple of breakouts,” Gordon said of the game-changing run. “We took a couple of shots where we held the ball too long. When you hold the ball too long and take that shot, it eliminates your safeties, and they were able to break it out and they were able to convert. They did a really good job of converting.”

Lee raced out to a 10-2 advantage with 4:30 in the first quarter, as it was able to attack the hoop for three of its first four field goals made.

The Eagles’ defense clamped down though, as point guard Jalen McGee gave Abilene its first lead at 14-13 when he scored on a transition layup following a steal with 5:05 left in the second quarter. But the Eagles had a difficult time separating from the Rebels until midway through the fourth quarter.

“We couldn’t pull away from them,” Reese said. “Give them credit. We would extend it to five or six and they would pull back in it. We could never extend the lead all game. Their kids battled and played really tough. Finally, we got a chance in the fourth to extend it and that was the difference. Give Lee’s kids credit. I thought they played really hard.”

Maxwell led the Rebels with 11 points, followed by nine from Tre Hubert.

McGee scored 12, while Jackson Stevens had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Eagles.

Lee visits Wolfforth Frenship at 6:30 p.m. Friday to tip off the second half of district.

“We have four teams (in our district), one of them we played tonight, that are in the top 30 in the state in certain polls,” Gordon said. “In certain polls, all four of them are in there. We’re battling every one of them. We had a poor game at Central; we didn’t play well at Central. But every other game in district, we’ve come out and we’ve played well. We’ll line up and we’ll go to Frenship and we’ll play hard on Friday.”