By MIKE MONTFORT
Shannon Lilly scored a career-high 23 points, grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, dished out two assists and made two steals as Navarro overcame foul trouble and rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to beat 8th-ranked Trinity Valley, 61-55.
Coach Michael Landers’ Bulldogs (21-9/14-5) won their third straight game, 7th in their last eight, and 11th in their last 14 games. By owning a better East Zone record and sweeping the Cardinals (25-5/15-4), the Bulldogs claimed the No. 5 seed over Kilgore in the upcoming Region XIV Tournament at Tyler, and also knocked the Cardinals from the tournament’s top seeding position.
Lilly starred on Sophomore Day in his last game at the Wolens Special Events Center, a homecourt where Navarro fashioned a 13-1 season and 9-0 conference record this season. Lilly earned the nickname ‘Big-Shot’ after his buzzer beater knocked down Paris three weeks ago, but the legend grew greater with Saturday’s stirring full-court effort.
The Dallas Kimball product, who continues to lead Region XIV in three-point shooting percentage, drilled 5-of-11 beyond the arc Saturday at varying critical stages. He and Cris Boleware accounted for 8 three-pointers as NC hit 10-of-29 beyond the circle.
Navarro inside players Troy Jones, Jaleel Cousins and Neville Fincher each were saddled with two early fouls as the Bulldogs fell behind by as many as nine (27-18) with 3:55 left before halftime, and the problems compounded at the outset of the second half.
Duan Wright’s two-handed dunk at 3:35, two Jamar Goodwin free throws and a Toney Foster three brought Navarro within 30-27 at the break.
TVCC attacked inside during the first six minutes of the second half, went on a 13-1 run, and opened up a 43-28 lead. During the first 13 minutes of the second half, Navarro managed only two baskets — one, via basket interference; and the other, from a goaltending call.
Boleware banged consecutive threes that sparked Navarro on a 23-6 binge during the final 6:30. Boleware contributed the majority of his 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 steals during the second half.
NAVARRO 61, TVCC 55
TRINITY VALLEY: Octavius Ellis 12, Aldonis Foote 10, Kevin Jordan 9, Josh Robinson 7, Dedrick Basile 6, Patrick Ingram 5, Dilepso Blanco 3, Malcolm Riley 3. TOTALS: 14-3-(18-25)-55.
NAVARRO: Shannon Lilly 23, Cris Boleware 12, Jamar Goodwin 8, Duan Wright 6, Toney Foster 5, Troy Jones 4, DaShawn Robinson 2, Jaleel Cousins 1. TOTALS: 8-10-(15-23)-61.
HALFTIME: Trinity Valley 30, Navarro 27.
Foul Out: Navarro – Cousins.