ABILENE, Texas It was a disappointing afternoon for McLennan at the Region V Tournament in Abilene as the Highlanders fell to the Odessa Wranglers 64-55 in the opening round.
McLennan opened the game fired up. Dayante McClellan put the Highlanders on the board with a driving bucket in the lane with 18:40 to play in the first half. Odessa quickly responded with a 3-pointer from Jonas Parker to take an early one-point lead. The Wranglers continued to lead by one, 6-5, with 16:34 to play in the half. A Xavier Armstead 3-pointer followed by a Willie Thomas jumper put McLennan up by four, 10-6. An Anthony Johnson 3-pointer from the top of the key trimmed the lead to one, but two consecutive Willie Thomas jumpers put the Highlanders up by five with 13:46 to go. McLennan led by one, 16-15 midway through the half. Odessa began to pull away from that point, putting together a 15-2 run over a six minute span. The Wranglers led by 12 with three minutes remaining in the half and held the 33-24 advantage at the break.
The Highlanders’ offense went cold to start the second half allowing Odessa to extend the lead to 18, 47-29, with 13:42 to play. McLennan didn’t back down and sophomore Xavier Armstead stepped up. Armstead compiled an 8-0 run of his own to cut the lead to 10 and ignite the Highlanders’ comeback. McLennan continued to battle on both ends of the court, cutting the lead to five multiple times down the stretch. The Highlanders trailed by only five, 54-49, with 3:21 to play but that would prove to be as close as McLennan could get.
Free throws proved to be the Highlanders’ nemesis as the squad went 11-21 from the charity stripe in the game.
Armstead led McLennan with 14 points and Dayante McClellan added 10. James Reese scored 20 for Odessa to lead the Wranglers and Anthony Johnson scored 14.
McLennan ends the season with an overall record of 22-9.