Three for the win … Wiegreffe’s shot gives Cards title

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, December 29, 2016

BRIDGE CITY — Hunter Wiegreffe had not made a three-point shot all season until the final seconds ran off the clock in Thursday’s Bridge City Cardinal Classic final.

“It felt good when it came out [of my hands],” Wiegreffe said. “… That’s the first one I made this year. I made it count.”

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Brandon Vela pushed the ball down the court and gave it up to Wiegreffe, who curled to the top of the key and sank an open three-point basket at the buzzer to give the Cardinals the classic championship, 46-43 over defending titleholder Port Neches-Groves.

“He has the range, and I think it’s part of his development that he worked on it a bunch over the summer,” BC coach Larry Sterling said. “We don’t mind him taking it, but I tell you what, he knocked it down at the right time. That’s for sure.”

The win is the Cards’ sixth in a row, and it followed a near buzzer-beater in the third-place game. A shot from the half-court circle by Tarkington rimmed in and out to secure a 44-42 Vidor win.

But for three periods, it didn’t appear the championship game would come down to dramatics.

PNG (4-10), which lost its first Classic game to Vidor 47-34, held off Orangefield 42-41 on Wednesday and needed to beat Evadale by 16 points Thursday to break a tie in Pool B standings. PNG won 67-50.

“This tournament’s better than any practice we could have,” PNG coach Pat Abel said. “We can’t simulate the things we see here. It’s a great tournament for us. After the way we started [Wednesday] morning, I was kind of concerned about how we were going to perform, but the kids stepped up, and it only benefited us to get ready for Saturday’s district game.”

PNG begins District 22-5A play at 1 p.m. Saturday at home against Livingston.

Bridge City (11-6) built a 16-8 lead behind a trio of three-point shots by Max Baker (11 points), but PNG managed to hold the Cardinals without a field goal for almost 5 minutes in the second quarter. Still, BC held on to a 23-17 lead at halftime.

“Bridge City did a good job of making us struggle on offense in the first half in the half-court, so we knew we had to pick up some intensity, either in the full-court or the half-court,” Abel said.

BC regained some momentum and attacked the hole against PNG in the third quarter in building an 11-point edge going into the fourth. The Indians scored seven points in the period, but six of them came on three-point shots.

PNG’s half-court defense began to throw off Bridge City, and the Indians came up with key second-chance baskets and points off turnovers to claw back.

“I think our kids responded there with our press in the fourth quarter,” Abel said. “They made some big free throws as well.”

An offensive foul against Vela gave PNG a chance to tie the game late, but Keynel McZeal hit 1 of 2 free throws with 22 seconds to go. PNG rebounded the miss, and McZeal crashed the board on a missed three-point attempt and dished to Haden Wiggins for the tying shot.

That set the stage for the winning play. Wiegreffe’s trey gave him nine points.

“We’re still learning as a team how to ice games and play with a lead late in games,” Sterling said.

Wiggins finished with 13 points and Derrick Papa had 12, including three 3-point baskets, to lead the Indians.

PNG 67, Evadale 50

BRIDGE CITY — Despite a 17-point win, PNG needed every one of Papa’s 26 points to break the 16-point win margin needed to make it to the final. T.J. Jordan added 15 points.

Evadale canned nine treys and had two players each making three of them.

Anahuac 79, Sabine Pass 38

BRIDGE CITY — A 25-9 run by Anahuac opened up a 39-18 lead for Anahuac, and Sabine Pass never recovered in pool play action.

Jamyus Jones finished with 18 points, and Harold James added 11 for Sabine Pass.

Orangefield 82, Sabine Pass 50

BRIDGE CITY — Orangefield salvaged seventh place in the Classic with a rout of the reeling Sharks (4-12).

Jones led Sabine Pass with 19 points and James added 16.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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