An upcoming stretch of back-to-back games against 16-5A co-leaders Marshall and Nacogdoches meant a district title was still well within reach for the Lufkin Panthers entering the final month of the regular season.
Before they could set their sights on a district title, the Panthers had some unfinished business to take care of. Thanks to another hot night from the 3-point line and a balanced scoring effort, Lufkin left no doubt as it rolled to a 64-45 win over the Hallsville Bobcats at Panther Gym Tuesday night.
With the win, Lufkin now stands alone in third place in the 16-5A standings, a game behind both Nacogdoches and Marshall.
The Panthers got their second straight home win in emphatic fashion behind a 15-point night from Zay Shankle, who hit three of the team’s 10 3-pointers. Lufkin has now hit 21 treys in the last two games.
Natron Wortham added 12 points for Lufkin and Jackson Parks had 11 on a night each of the nine Panthers who saw playing time got in the scoring column.
Hallsville’s Benjamin Samples scored a game-high 24 points, but the rest of the Bobcats combined for only 21.
Before heating up, Lufkin started the game ice cold from the field as it connected on only one field goal in the first seven minutes.
T.K. Scott put Lufkin in the lead for the first time with a pair of free throws and Lufkin went ahead 9-5 after the opening quarter when Hunter Jones drained a three.
Shankle started the second quarter with a basket to put Lufkin on top by 6 points and the Panthers never trailed again.
Lufkin got its early breathing room with the help of a 14-0 run that took just a little over two minutes. Christian Mumphery and Wortham hit back-to-back triples before Wortham scored a bucket in the paint.
Shankle and Parks followed with two more 3-pointers to put the Pack on top 28-9.
The Panthers eventually led 35-19 at halftime.
Leading 43-24 midway through the third quarter, Hallsville showed signs of life with a quick 8-0 spurt that was capped by a three and a layup from Samples, narrowing the gap to 43-32 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
However, Lufkin had the ultimate answer with a 13-0 run. Wortham hit three free throws around 4 points from Moore as the Panthers led 50-32 after three quarters.
Parks and Elijah Johnson started the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Panthers their biggest lead at 56-32. Moore delivered the final highlight of the night with a steal and a dunk in the final minute.
Other Lufkin scorers were Moore and Mumphery (8), Jones and Johnson (3) and KaVorick Williams and Scott (2).
Lufkin returns to action on Friday night when it travels to face Marshall. The Mavericks entered Tuesday alone in first place but dropped a narrow road decision to Nacogdoches.