By Joshua Koch
HOUSTON – Mattering from what side you are standing on, the view of what the clash of the top two teams in District 21-5A meant differed.
Humble, which already locked up a playoff spot on Tuesday with its win against Barbers Hill, was looking at the game as a major test – a chance to play in a playoff-type atmosphere against a potential playoff team.
Porter, a program trying to make the postseason for the first time in its short program’s history, eyed it as a chance to separate themselves from the log jam created with six teams in the hunt for the final three playoff spots out of the district.
In a packed house in Humble on Friday, Porter took its seven-game winning streak into Humble and behind 20-point and 19-point performances from Deion and Sean Rhea, the Spartans battled to a 54-48 victory.
“Humble High School is traditionally a powerhouse, they still are,” Porter coach Tobin Reid said. “They are leading our district, they will win our district. They’re a tremendously coached team, they’ve got good poise and good players. We were fortunate to come in here tonight in a playoff-type atmosphere on the road, which I think will help our players down the road. We come away with a win and it just shows Porter is beginning to understand what basketball is about.”
Porter (21-8, 11-4 in District 21-5A play) came out of the gates swinging, leading by as much as six at one point of the first quarter before leading just by three at the end of it, 18-15.
Gridlocked at 21 apiece, Humble (25-6, 14-1) was able to battle point for point, trailing at the half 25-24. The Wildcats had six different players score in the first half, but Kevin Dawson the lone Humble player to reach double digits at 11.
The Wildcats caught fire from beyond the arch in the third quarter, hitting at one point five-straight three-pointers, a pair from Dawson, who finished with 19 points, and three from Jaylon Alsanders, who finished with a 11.
Behind the outburst of three-pointers at the end of the third, Humble led by six, 45-39.
All of Porter’s points in the third quarter came from Sean and Deion, pushing them each over the double digit mark for the night.
In the fourth quarter, it was all Porter.
The Spartans opened on an 11-0 run, keeping Humble scoreless until Joe Temple hit a three with under two minutes to go, pulling the Wildcats within two.
With 20.3 seconds remaining, Humble down 52-48, Wildcats coach Lair Crawford drew up a play for Dawson to either take a quick three or drive to the rim.
Dawson got the pass, worked to the right, couldn’t find the room for a three and decided to drive to the rim. The senior got a relatively clean look at a layup but only to watch the ball roll off the front of the rim with 12 seconds to go.
“He got to the rim, he got a look and just missed it,” Crawford said. “He makes it, we call a timeout and set something up. Just one of those deals. We said if there was an open three we’d take it but otherwise get to the rim adn call a timeout.”
Immediately fouling Sean Rhea, the Porter senior went to the line sinking a pair of free throws sealing the eventual 54-48 victory.
After giving up 21 points to Humble in the third quarter, Porter held the Wildcats to just three points in the entire fourth quarter, outscoring them 15-3.
“Well it’s good,” Reid said. “We’ve done that several times this year. I don’t know if it’s our defense or just our length and size that makes it difficult for teams to score late in the ball game.”
Sean and Deion finished the second half scoring 25 of Porter’s 29 points of the half and both finishing scoring 39 of the Spartan’s 54 points.
“I mean it was good, we know we had to come out there in the second half and just turn it up on them,” Sean said. “The first half we were tripping. Then the second half came we started playing as a team, we came together, especially in an environment like this. It was crazy.”
The loss marked the first district loss of the season for Humble and snapped a nine-game winning streak.
With the situation Humble was in, having already clinched a playoff berth, Friday wasn’t viewed as a must-win but Crawford described as a game that created a playoff-style atmosphere against a quality team that they would learn from win or lose.
“I mean we don’t want to lose a game,” he said. “The biggest thing is just playing on this kind of stage. We haven’t played many games like this. In a lot of districts they play games like this three, four or five times throughout district. Some maybe even more. We haven’t had many games like this with this atmosphere, this kind of competition, so we say win or lose we have to learn from it.
“That’s like a playoff game. A playoff game comes down to possessions and being able to score in the fourth quarter. We’ll learn from it. We’ll watch the film … It was good we had this sort of game because otherwise you can’t learn from it.”
Humble will close out the season against Crosby, Kingwood Park and Caney Creek, while Porter gets New Caney, Barbers Hill and Dayton.
Outside of Caney Creek, every opponent for the Wildcats and Spartans down the stretch are playoff contenders.
“One game at a time and New Caney’s on the map Tuesday,” Reid said.