Head in the Game

Lufkin’s Aiden Olivarez (right) and a Port Arthur Memorial player fight to control the ball in the rain Saturday morning on John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium at Lufkin High School.

The Lufkin Panthers spent the first two days of their showcase showing they have no problem playing from behind as they won one game and tied another despite holding a lead for a total of five minutes.

In the Lufkin Panther Showcase finale on Saturday morning, they showed playing with a lead wasn’t a problem either.

Luis Flores scored just two minutes into the game and the Panthers’ depth and defense took over from there on the way to a 1-0 win over the Port Arthur Memorial Titans on John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium.

“Just starting off like that builds a ton of confidence,” Lufkin head coach David McPherson said. “When you start off strong from the whistle like that, it immediately puts pressure on the other team.”

The Panthers didn’t waste any time in getting started as they set up Flores for the early scoring opportunity. He took the ball from just outside the 18-yard box and fired a shot into the upper corner of the net for his third goal in the past two days.

“Having the lead is a good thing, but sometimes you can almost get too relaxed,” McPherson said. “I thought we did that a little today, which is something we need to work on.”

Following the early goal, Lufkin continued to put the pressure on the Titans, although it never found an insurance goal.

“We probably could have put up 10 there in the first half, and it honestly should have been five or six,” McPherson said.

After halftime, Lufkin rested several of its top threats with several players getting extended playing time. They were still able to keep the Titans from mounting many strong scoring threats while maintaining the lead.

“We relied on our depth to get us through this one,” McPherson said. “We had some guys that were a little banged up and tired from having three games in three days so we had to rely on some of the other guys to get us through the end.”

The Panthers (7-0-2) stayed unbeaten on the season with the win headed into the non-district finale against Mesquite at Tyler’s Rose Stadium Wednesday night. Lufkin also finished the showcase with a 2-0-1 record.

In girls action this weekend, Lufkin dropped two of three games in the Longview Lady Lobo Invitational.

Lufkin started with a 6-0 loss to Longview before bouncing back with a 3-1 win over Texas High. The Lady Panthers closed the weekend with a 1-0 loss to Mount Pleasant on Saturday.

The Lady Panthers will play at Port Neches-Groves on Tuesday night.

Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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