While Justin Northwest pushed and raced its way to a third-period lead as large as nine points, the Texans also found themselves in foul trouble against Port Arthur Memorial in Saturday's UIL Class 5A boys basketball championship game.
Ultimately, the personal fouls — three players each had four by midway through the third period — proved too much to overcome, and the Titans beat Northwest, 75-69, at the Alamodome.
"I thought our kids battled their tails off," said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. "It's just one of those things where, you know, hey when you've got guys with four fouls on the floor it just makes it really tough. It kind of handcuffed us there."
Saddled with the foul pressure, including a fourth Texan getting four fouls by the middle of the fourth period, Memorial (34-5) applied full-court pressure that doomed Northwest (34-6). Titans' senior guard Darion Chatman scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth period and was named the game's MVP.
"Fouls yes, and in the fourth quarter we couldn't stop [Chatman]," Hatch said. "In the end we zoned him, we manned him, we tried to double him. He just wasn't laying down. He kept hunkering down and coming at us.
"I thought he turned the game around himself. If we stay in front of him and stop him, maybe the game stays at a pace that we like. Obviously foul trouble was a big problem for us."
Three Northwest starters, Sammie Freeman, Avery Anderson and Julien Smith, all fouled out in the final period.
"I just think that we didn't finish the game well," said Anderson, who was limited to eight points after leading the team with 16 in Thursday's semifinal. It took our aggressiveness away because of the foul situation. I think I could have probably done better.
The Texans were led by forward Mason Hix, who scored 27 points. Freeman finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
"We really went into the game thinking we were going to switch it up some, man, zone, try to keep them off balance," Hatch said. "But it kind of backed us into a corner, with foul trouble. So we had to stay in zone a bit longer than we had wanted to.
All in all they played their tails off. More credit to Memorial, in all honesty, because they took the fight to us right there at the end when they had to."