Landon Jackon defends in the paint against North Lamar. Photo by Joe Watson

PARIS, Texas – It’s never easy on the road.

Pleasant Grove’s Lady Hawks dropped their first District 14-4A contest of the year when a three-point try bounced off the rim as time expired, while the boys’ team stayed in first with a furious rally in the final two minutes to close out a bruising affair.

The results left the Lady Hawks at 16-6, 5-1 in district, while the boys climbed to 17-4, 4-0. The teams will host Atlanta Friday night.

Xavier Benson eyes a foul shot at North Lamar Tuesday. Photo by Joe Watson

Pleasant Grove Boys 54, North Lamar 47

The Panther gym went crazy when North Lamar erased an 8-point Hawk lead with two minutes to play with a put-back jumper by Jay Walters to tie the contest with 2:05 remaining.

Twenty seconds later it when PG freshman Landon Jackson set a perfect screen to give Griffin Young a wide-open look at the top of the key. The senior guard calmly swished a three-pointer.

Moments later, Jackson skied high above the crowd to clear a rebound and whipped the ball downcourt to Aaron Harmon, who drew a foul and dropped in both shots to make it a five-point lead. The flashy senior guard led all scorers with 21.

Young, who scored eight, hit a couple more free throws to close out the scoring.

It was a gritty ending to a game that produced the thuds of Pleasant Grove players hit the floor, followed by the silence of referees’ whistles.

“We got out of this place with a tough win “We knew it was going to be tough. We came to play and when it mattered most, we played great defense,” said PG coach Billy Brewer.

“We came out of a hostile place with a win, and that’s a great thing.”

At several points, it looked the Hawks might run the Panthers out of their own gym, but North Lamar continued to battle and fight its way back into the contest. PG held a 43-31 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Josh Dangerfield, who had not scored all night, hit three, three-pointers in a four-minute span to pull North Lamar back into the game.

Harmon was the only Hawk in double figures. Young had eight points, Luke Harmon had seven and Xavier Benson chipped in six.

Monique Walker is fouled as she drives to the basket. Photo by Joe Watson

North Lamar 48, Lady Hawks 45

In a game of peaks and valleys, Pleasant Grove opened with an 8-0 run and then went ice cold to find itself down, 26-18 at the half.

The Lady Panthers took advantage of a height advantage, feeding the ball inside to Summer Andrews who poured in 12 points before intermission.

Ashanti Levingston skies to grab a rebound against North Lamar. Photo by Joe Watson

“Coach (Steve) Morris made some great defensive adjustments during timeouts, and the girls executed,” said PG coach Jason Boston.

The adjustments must have worked, because Andrews hit two buckets the rest of the way.  One was a three-pointer to open the third quarter to open the Pantherettes’ lead to 29-20.

That’s when Monique Walker came alive, pouring in four three-pointers in the third to close the gap to 38-35 as the fourth quarter began. She would end the night with 16 points.

The Lady Hawks stayed within three for most of the fourth quarter, despite a flurry of a cacophony of referees’ whistles that sent Walker and Ashanti Levingston to the bench with five fouls each.

“The kids played the final two minutes extremely well, considering the time and the score,” Boston said. “We got a 3 to tie on the rim at the buzzer. We talk all the time at practice and during our special situations segment that we always want to get a shot up at the basket to give ourselves a chance.”

The Lady Hawks have four remaining district contests. Three are at home and the final, in what may be the championship game, will be at Liberty-Eylau.

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A veteran journalist and educator, Bill Owney is a 1980 graduate of the University of Florida. Writing awards include APME honors for investigative reporting, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Award for public service reporting and numerous awards for editorial, column and news writing. He served as publisher of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Pittsburg Gazette when each paper won sweepstakes awards from the Texas Press and North and East Texas Press Associations. He spent 15 years as a public school teacher and is an adjunct professor of English at Texarkana College.