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This is one that Cedar Creek will likely remember; Eagles win after trailing by 16 in the fourth

Cedar Creek forward Kenji Franklin (21) leaps to put it past Hendrickson's King Carter at the Eagles gym on Tuesday

By Jim Irish

Photos by Dustyn Werner

Cedar Creek basketball players and coaches will remember this win — perhaps for the rest of their lives.

Trailing by 16 points in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, the Eagles generated an improbable comeback to defeat Hendrickson 56-54 at home before a cheering crowd on Tuesday.

The Eagles (20-8 overall, 5-3 in District 23-5A) moved into a tie for second place with Connally. They earned 20 wins in a season for the first time in school history.

Cedar Creek guard Robert Conrad (1) fires his jumper
"We showed fight; we showed will."

-- Cedar Creek coach Valentino Maxwell

Hendrickson’s Amir Thompson, the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, scored inside at the 7:46 mark in the fourth quarter for a 54-38 advantage.

By any analysis, the game looked all but over.

But the Eagles thought otherwise, denying the Hawks on defense and scoring the final 18 points.

”We showed fight; we showed will,” Cedar Creek coach Valentino Maxwell said. “When it went to 16, there were some doubts. 

“(Kenji Franklin) got two easy baskets. (Hendrickson) was down 8-2 (in the fourth). That’s what happens when you get three or four stops in a row. Our doubts turned to ‘we can win this.’ ”

"We took our foot off the gas. ... "It's not over until it's over."

-- Hendrickson coach Kennon Dvorak

Hendrickson coach Kennon Dvorak put the loss in perspective. The Hawks (19-10, 6-2) fell from a first-place tie with Georgetown.

”(We) took our foot off the gas,” Dvorak said. “Hopefully, we learned a valuable lesson moving forward: It’s not over until it’s over.

”I think we got way too comfortable, and we decided we won the game. But the clock still had time on it. Cedar Creek was hungry for that one.”

Cedar Creek nibbled away at the lead in the fourth. Braydon Adams scored on a layup with 6:02 remaining. Leland Washington drained a three-pointer at the 5:32 mark. Robert Conrad drove for a basket with 4:48 left. Micah McDonald cashed in on a drive at the 3:57 mark to narrow Hendrickson’s lead to 54-52. 

"That was definitely our best quarter of the year."

-- Maxwell on outscoring Hendrickson 18-2 in the fourth

Conrad, who finished with 17 points, converted three of four free throws in the final minute and a half to ice it.

”That was definitely our best quarter we played this year,” Maxwell said.

Ahead by 16 points, Hendrickson went to a slowdown offense.

Franklin stretches his 6-foot-5 frame for the ball with a Hendrickson player who has fallen to the court

”If you go into a stall offense too early, then you get relaxed,” Maxwell said. “Our guys played with this fire… Their guys, in that situation, said ‘if we hold it, we can win this game.’ ”

Franklin and Conrad are the team’s go-to players, but the other starters contributed to knock off Hendrickson. Franklin almost earned a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. McDonald scored eight points to go with five rebounds and two blocks. Washington added eight points and seven rebounds and connected on 2-of-4 threes. Braydon Adams scored eight points, hitting two from long range.

Conrad covered Thompson for the first three quarters, but after the explosive Thompson — who had four inches on Conrad — scored three consecutive baskets in the third quarter, Maxwell turned to McDonald.

”We got in the fourth quarter and said, ‘This ain’t working,’ ” Maxwell said. “We gotta try something different. I’m glad we made the switch.”

Cedar Creek, which has won three consecutive games, travels to East View (20-9, 3-5) on Friday. East View is the only team to defeat district-leading Georgetown (7-1).

Jim Irish is a freelance writer in Bastrop, Texas

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