Zay Shankle scored 12 points, including a clutch game-winning 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining, as the Lufkin Panthers escaped with a 56-53 win over their former district rivals, The Woodlands Highlanders, at Panther Gym Saturday night.
Shankle’s fourth trey of the night came at the perfect time as it gave the Panthers a 54-53 advantage. Lufkin followed with a defensive stop before Christian Reggie finished off a nice reverse layup with 10 seconds left.
With a chance to tie, The Woodlands sailed a pass out of bounds and the Panthers were able to dribble out the clock in moving to 3-0 on the young season.
Jordan Moore matched Shankle with 12 points, while Natron Wortham scored 11.
Tyler Hveem led The Woodlands with 21 points, Brock Luechtefeld had 12, and Cole Himmer added 11.
In the opening quarter, it didn’t seem like Lufkin would need late heroics for the win as the Panthers scored the first 9 points on a pair of Wortham layups, a Moore drive and a Shankle triple.
The Panthers eventually led by as many as 11 at 17-6 when Jackson Parks knocked down a three of his own.
However, Lufkin went the next eight minutes without putting a single point on the board and The Woodlands was able to take advantage with 13 straight points.
Hveem started the run with a putback and a three before Will Goin converted a 3-point play that narrowed the gap to 17-14 after a quarter.
Hveem hit another 3-pointer before David Omakwale scored to give The Woodlands its first lead of the night.
Lufkin’s Moore briefly stopped the momentum with a three before the Highlanders built a 6-point lead just before the half.
Parks sent the Panthers into the half with a 3-point deficit with a triple that narrowed the gap to 30-27.
Shankle opened the second half with back-to-back treys that put the Pack back on top at 33-30 before The Woodlands answered with a brief 7-0 run of its own.
Lufkin answered with its own 7-0 run capped by a Wortham three for a 3-point lead before the Panthers eventually went into the fourth quarter with a 42-39 advantage. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair with The Woodlands going up 51-49 on Hveem’s fifth 3-pointer of the night with two minutes left.
That set up Shankle’s late heroics for the win.
Other Lufkin scorers were Parks (8), Reggie (6) and T.K. Scott (5).
Lufkin (3-0) returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday when it plays at Longview.