The Sherman Bearcats started the second half of district play with a little more emphasis than how they finished the first half, but the result ended up the same and now they are hoping that putting together some more wins over the final weeks can vault them into a playoff spot.
Sherman took a big step in that direction with a season sweep of its rival as the Bearcats defeated the Denison Yellow Jackets, 71-40, in District 10-5A action at DHS.
It was the sixth straight victory in the series for the Cats, who have taken 14 of the past 15 meetings.
Kasai Burton had 20 points, four assists and four rebounds, Vontrelle Sanders finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists, Ashton Alexander totaled 13 points and Anthony Gionfriddo finished with four points and seven rebounds for Sherman (13-14, 3-5), which plays at first-place Lovejoy on Friday.
The Bearcats may find themselves in sixth place but they are just a game back of a playoff spot and two games out of third heading into the final six contests of the season. All that comes with three of their losses being by no more than five points and another in single digits.
“The kids know it. They understand where we can be,” Sherman head coach Jordan Marks said. “It’s really wide open; you can be anywhere from third to sixth. Hopefully we can string things together and make a run.”
Dameon Smallwood scored seven points while Ross Hall and Ty Kirkbride each added six points for Denison (0-21, 0-8), which travels to fourth-place McKinney North on Friday night.
Despite holding a double-digit lead for nearly three-and-a-half quarters, Sherman wanted to make sure there wasn’t a chance for Denison to pull off a comeback.
The first meeting ended with a 16-point win by SHS but the Jackets were close before the Bearcats ended the game with a big run.
“In that game they cut the lead to five in the middle of the fourth quarter,” Marks said. “We wanted to avoid being in a five-point game in the fourth, especially since it’s at their place.”
There were no worries of that after Sherman came out firing in the third quarter to build on a 17-point advantage.
Sanders led the way with nine of the 22 points in the frame, including a three-point play.
Alexander drilled the only three in this eight-minute stretch but in addition to Sanders, both Burton and Phoenix Grant finished off three-point plays of their own.
Denison ended the third quarter with just eight points — Kirkbride hit two shots — as the gap continued to widen.
“What we did in the third quarter was what we needed to do,” Marks said. “We felt like even though we won the second quarter, it was only by four points and having it that close wasn’t really winning the quarter.”
It was a 56-25 margin heading into the fourth. De’Teaurean Johnson had a three for the Jackets and Braylen Gentry chipped in a bucket.
Sanders and Burton had consecutive threes as Sherman’s lead in the frame crested at 34 points with 4:27 remaining.
Sherman started the second on an 8-1 run where Burton and Sanders had transition dunks to get the visitor’s lead to 20 at the midway point of the quarter. The Cats then went into drought, scoring just four points in the final 5:39 of the first half.
The Jackets, who committed 18 turnovers through two quarters — 10 coming in the first, weren’t any better but Hall converted a three-point play and Trey Rhodes added a bucket to trim the deficit to 34-17 at the break.
Denison’s only leads of the contest came in the first few minutes when Johnson opened the game with a drive and Hall converted a putback.
But Sherman followed with an 11-1 run which included a three-point play from Burton and a steal and layin by Zacoreion Harris in the middle of the first quarter.
The Bearcats continued to add to the lead and Kirkbride ended a 9-0 burst with a bucket in the final half minute as Denison trailed 22-9 after the opening eight minutes.
This article originally appeared on Herald Democrat: Sherman Bearcats hope to build on win over Denison Yellow Jackets