Big second half leads Amarillo High to win over rival Tascosa

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Amarillo High’s Braden Hausen drives to the basket against Tascosa during a District 3-5A game on Friday night at the Amarillo High Activity Center. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
After one half Friday night at the Amarillo High Activity Center, things seemed like they were set up for Tascosa to crash the expected party thrown by the Amarillo High boys.

In the end, though, the hosts tossed out their guests, and everybody knew whose house it was.

Tascosa jumped out to an early lead in a tight first half and it may have looked as if No. 5 Amarillo High was sweating it out. But the Sandies came back with a dominant second half and simply took care of business against their crosstown rivals, rolling to a 68-47 victory, opening the second half of their District 3-5A schedule by clinching a playoff berth early.

The win pretty much provided a snapshot of why Amarillo High (26-4, 5-0 in district) has been the preeminent boys team in town over the last few years and looks to continue that with what’s left of this season. While the final score was a bit misleading, there was no doubt who the better team was in the second half, although the Sandies had to work for it against the Rebels (20-10, 2-4).

“This was exactly how we knew it was going to be,” said AHS coach Jason PIllion, who has coached what seems like countless games in the rivalry. “(The Rebels) have too much pride in what they do to not come in here and punch us in the mouth and that’s basically what they did. They got us on our heels. I thought the crowd was great tonight and our kids handled the environment well.”

The emotional component which is always at work whenever the two schools meet in any sport was in abundance from the outset. It seemed on Tascosa’s side early, as the Rebels scored the final 10 points of the first quarter to take a 17-9 lead into the second quarter.

Jailyn Sledge carried the biggest load for Tascosa, scoring 11 points in the opening period. That just seemed to wake up the Sandies, though.

“You got eight guys who won 33 games last year that played in the regional tournament,” said Pillion of his experienced roster. “They’ve been in big basketball games, If we panic and bat an eye, that thing goes from eight to 15 points down. It was a very mature win tonight.”

Zach Brown of Amarillo High looks to pass against Tascosa on Friday night. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]

The Sandies came back in the second quarter, as Zach Brown scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Amarillo High took a 29-28 halftime lead. An intriguing second half seemed to loom.

That’s when Amarillo High’s Braden Hausen delivered. Hausen opened the second half with a 3-pointer, then scored on a breakaway dunk which sparked the Sandies, who never looked back.

The third quarter was especially rough, as the game got physical. Tascosa fell into an offensive funk and scored only two points in the quarter, and never recovered from that. Hausen scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half and showed the leadership which has made him one of the Panhandle’s best players the last two years. He hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Sandies pulled away and hit six for the game, leading an Amarillo High offense which hit 12 from beyond the arc.

“I knew we had to get going, but it wasn’t just me, it was everybody on the team who got it going,” Hausen said. “We talked about that at halftime and we were locked in after starting off slow. You can’t get down on yourself after getting down early. We beat (the Rebels) at their place so we knew they were going to come out and give us a punch.”

Brown scored 17 for Amarillo High and Will Williams had 14.
Sledge had 20 points for Tascosa. Jaemon Palacios was the only other player in double digits for the Rebels with 11.

The next box on the list for the Sandies to check off would be a district championship, but they need to get through their next three games for that.

“You’ve got to go on the road and win ball games and handle your business at home,” Pillion said. “We can’t have any peaks and valleys. We’ve got to have a great practice and take this thing into Tuesday night.”

Tascosa              17  28  30  47
Amarillo High    9  29   42  68
T- Jailyn Sledge 20, Jaemon Palacios 10. AHS- Braden Hausen 26, Zach Brown 17, Will Williams 11. Records: Tascosa 20-10, 2-4; Amarillo High 26-4, 5-0

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