Melissa knocked off first-place Celina, 69-67, on Friday, Feb. 2, at Celina to move into a three-way tie for second place in District 11-4A. It was the Bobcats’ first district loss of the season. With three games left, the Cards, Aubrey and Princeton are now two games back of Celina (6-1) for the district title.
Guard Junior Castleberry poured in a game-high 26 points for Melissa (4-3) while fellow guard Brendon Lewis popped for 15. Anna head coach Eric Benton noted that Castleberry’s 26 points came on just 14 shots. “That’s the most efficient he’s been offensively and it was a huge boost for us,” he said. Lewis’ double-double — 15 points, 13 rebounds — also caught Benton’s eye.
“Brendon was great on both ends for us,” he said. “Anytime one of our guys has a double-double it’s awesome but he also had five assists, which was huge.”
Down nine with about 2:30 left to play, the Bobcats made a run, cutting Melissa’s lead to three. A four-point play by Celina’s Hayden Hollin — fouled on a made 3-pointer — gave the Bobcats a 1-point lead, 67-66, with under a minute left. Castleberry put the Cards back up by 1 with a pair of free throws and Melissa guard Ezra Monroe followed with another free throw after getting fouled while rebounding.
With the Cards ahead, 69-67, both Karson Stastney of Celina and Lewis missed two free throws each and, with four seconds left, the Bobcats had time for a desperation shot to win. “It actually hit the backboard and caught a little bit of the rim,” Benton said. “Just enough to make me hold my breath.
“The thing that I might be the most proud of is the minutes we got from some of our bench guys. Mark [Fisher] had eight quick points during a run to start the second quarter. Ezra was a great defender and created some great looks for teammates. Cole [McCraw] was really good, too. He had six points, but four of those came during a key stretch in the game.”
For the Bobcats, Stastny also posted 26 points and Hollin chipped in 12.
Celina suffered 16 turnovers while the Cards handed it over just five times. Melissa overcame a tough showing at the free throw line, making 10-of-23 attempts — 5-of-14 in the fourth quarter — while the Bobcats sank 25-of-31 (81 percent).
Melissa scorers: Junior Castleberry 26, Brendon Lewis 15, Mark Fisher 8, Josh Wood 7, Cole McCraw 6, Ezra Monroe 3, Chase Mapps 2, Matt Holloway 2.