TJC stops Navarro, 75-73

TYLER — Sophomore guard Anthony Odunsi scored a game-high 31 points and hit key free-throws down the stretch as the Tyler Apaches defeated the Navarro Bulldogs 75-73 in a Region XIV men’s basketball game Saturday at Wagstaff Gymnasium.

While finishing with the highest individual point output by a player against Navarro this season, the 6-foot-4 Odunsi hit 17-of-19 free throws and scored 25 of his points during the second half as TJC (18-4, 9-3) won its ninth straight game and pulled within one game of the Bulldogs for the overall conference leadership.  Odunsi hit 5 of 6 free throws in the waning seconds that reinforced an Apache lead.

TaJon Welcome scored 13 points with two spectacular dunks in the process as TJC opened up as much as an 11-point lead in the latter stages of the second half.

Navarro got a personal individual-season high 21 from Harrison Hawkins, 14 from Jamar Goodwin and 12 with six rebounds from Toney Foster in the loss.

The Bulldogs’ struggles at the outset eventually hurt them down the stretch.  Navarro missed its first 15 shots from the floor over TJC’s 2-3 zone deense, yet fell behind only 11-4. David Woodard hit Navarro’s only two-point basket of the half at 10:24, but Hawkins’ hot hand from the outside finally generated a momentum-changing spark.  Hawkins hit 4 consecutive three-pointers.  Goodwin and reserve Micah Cooper also fanned the fire with treys as Navarro found itself in a 29-28 halftime lead, thanks to 6-of-17 perimeter shooting.

The game remained close until the Apaches broke free for a 70-59 lead with 2:20 left.  Free throws by Dale Jones, followed by a block and steal by Welcome that resulted in two Odunsi baskets, fueled the rush.

Navarro battled back within 3 (73-70) after two Hawkins free throws with :05.4 left.  Odunsi was fouled immediately in a pressured inbound with :04.2 remaining and sank clinching free throws.

TJC hit 31-of-42 free throws in the contest; Navarro, 22-of-31.

Coach Johnny Estelle’s Bulldogs (18-5, 10-2) saw an eight-game winning streak snapped, but purpose to begin a new one Wednesday when they host East Zone rival Trinity Valley for a 7 pm game at Wolens Special Events Center.


EAST ZONE: Tyler 75, Navarro 73; Trinity Valley 80, Bossier Parish 69; Paris 74, Panola 67.  SOUTH ZONE: San Jacinto 104, Lee 101; Lamar State-Port Arthur 97, Jacksonville 72; Coastal Bend 70, Blinn 64.


SOUTH ZONE: San Jacinto at Jacksonville


EAST ZONE: Trinity Valley at Navarro; Tyler at Kilgore; Panola at Bossier Parish.  SOUTH ZONE: Lamar State-Port Arthur at Angelina; Coastal Bend at Lee.