By CHRIS BOOTHE
For the second straight game the Grapeland Sandies opened play with an 8-0 run. Unlike in Friday’s regional semifinal, this one wouldn’t hold.
San Augustine would respond with a 16-4 run and Grapeland would never fully recover as San Augustine would survive a late scare and defeat the Sandies 92-77 in the Class 1A, Division I Region III finals here at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gym.
San Augustine's Bobby Tanner played like a man possessed with 34 points in the game. Playing with three fouls throughout the entire second half, Tanner put the Wolves on his back and lead his team back to Austin for the first time since 2004.
Grapeland opened the game strong with a quick basket by Jaques Faulk. Jacolby Simpson added early to the Sandies attack, as Grapeland rattled off eight-straight points to open the game. San Augustine responded with a big 16-4 run that would give the Wolves a 16-12 lead. San Augustine would never trail again.
San Augustine led 22-16 after the first quarter, and despite a close play from the Sandies, would lead 41-31 at the halftime break. The Wolves would take advantage of a Patrick Walker-less Grapeland in the second quarter, as the junior guard picked up his third foul early to earn a seat on the bench.
Once Walker returned to the game in the second half, the Sandies would make a game of things. Despite falling behind by 20 points early in the third quarter, the Sandies would roar back behind the play of Simpson, cutting the deficit to eight before a JaCourtney Thomas three pointer would put the Wolves ahead by 11.
San Augustine would finish strong to earn the 92-77 win and advance to the state semifinals, where they’ll take on unbeaten and second-ranked Mumford at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Walker led the Sandies with 26 points and seven rebounds. Faulk added 11 points, while Whitt scored 10 points in his final game as a Sandie. William Whitehead and Simpson scored nine points each and combined for four blocks.
San Augustine was led by Tanner, who scored a game-high 34 points for the Wolves. Javis Smith added 18 points with Thomas scoring 17.