HALTOM CITY — In building a basketball tradition, the road for Trophy Club Byron Nelson ran through a team Tuesday with arguably the richest past in Texas high school hoops.
When Keyunta Watkins and Emmanuel Nzekwesi helped spark a fourth-quarter offensive outburst, it was the Bobcats who punched their first ticket to the regional tournament with a 77-57 win over Fort Worth Dunbar.
Nelson (29-5) will play the winner of Wolforth Frenship and Canyon in a Class 4A Region I semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday at The Coliseum in Snyder.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Watkins said. “Things just keep going on and we’re going to keep building on this legacy.”
For Dunbar (22-10), which last played in the regional tournament in 2007, it’s quest to return there will be on hold at least another year.
Watkins, who scored 24 points while Nzekwesi had 20, provided the bulk of Nelson’s offense. The Bobcats scored 27 points in the final quarter to break open a close game, thanks to making 10 of 15 free throws.
Those resulted from a desperate Dunbar defense, forced to foul aggressively when their full-court pressure faltered late.
A 10-1 run in the third quarter, fueled by seven of Watkins’ points, created the separation that Nelson needed to force Dunbar’s hand.
He capped the run with a penetrating layup, pulling a Dunbar defender out of position with a fake outlet pass to the corner.
The Bobcats also connected on 29 of 48 field goals for the game to pace an offense that traded leads 12 times .
“I thought the kids just stayed at it and stayed with what was working,” Nelson coach Scott Curran said. “We just tried to react to their defensive trap and get the ball to the middle of the floor.”
That strategy allowed Watkins to work for easy baskets, and Nzekwesi had four follow-up shots and six offensive rebounds .
“Dunbar played hard tonight and we struggled with rebounding in the first half,” Watkins said. “Our fans kept us in the game. They came an hour and a half the other night to see us play, so I’m not surprised they came 30 minutes to see us play here.”
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