MIDLOTHIAN — Midlothian, which was on a three-game losing streak and the outside of the UIL 5A playoff picture a week ago, brought itself back from the basketball dead with some plucky play from its varsity roster.
The Panthers earned their third consecutive victory and moved into third place in District 10-5A after knocking off Mansfield Legacy High School 73-68 Tuesday night at MLHS Gymnasium.
Midlothian (18-7, 4-4) beat Lancaster High School on Jan. 20 and Red Oak High School on Jan. 17, holding the two teams to an average of 50.5 points per game. Their win also forced the reigning 5A state champion Flyin' Tigers from their comfortable perch at the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' No. 11 position to unranked by week's end.
While Caleb Jordan and Vincent Lee combined to help ground the Hawks and tame Lancaster, it was the four-punch combination of Lee, Jordan, Kaden Archie and Evan Marshall that helped Midlothian re-establish itself as a legitimate state power.
Jordan scored 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting from behind the 3-point line and pulled down six rebounds. Marshall had 15 points after hitting 3 of his 7 shots from the 3-point arc and Archie scored 13 points and gathered nine rebounds.
Lee, the Panthers' 6-foot-8 rim protector, like Archie, was inches away from a double-double — in assists. He scored 13 points and handed out a season-high seven assists during the win.
Ja'Michael Howard boosted Midlothian with a six-point effort off the bench and Tyler Tobey sunk a 2-pointer and added a free throw against the Bronco defense.
The fact Mansfield Legacy's high-powered offense was clicking, may have been a better gauge of how deadly the Panthers can be at their peak — especially when they can post 18 team assists and only six turnovers. As a team, Midlothian shot 53 percent from the 3-point line, 43 percent on 2-point field goals and 77 percent from the free throw line.
Mansfield Legacy was equally effective offensively as Broncos' players hit 45 percent (14-for-31) of their 2-point field goals and 78 percent of their nine free throw attempts. Midlothian, however, outscored them in the first, third and fourth quarters.
The Panthers will face Mansfield Timberview High School at 8 p.m. Friday at MHS Arena. The (18-4, 7-1) Wolves are the TABC's No. 12 team and have won three straight games since being knocked out of the top five by Waxahachie High School on Jan. 13.
Beating Mansfield Timberview wouldn't only mark the second time they would beat a top 15 team in the last two weeks, though. It would also be a chance to secure a higher seed in the upcoming UIL basketball playoffs.
A win and a Lancaster loss would give Midlothian sole control of third place in the district and close the gap on the Wolves' three-game second place lead. In that scenario, with a desperate Flyin' Tigers team fighting for a playoff spot and Mansfield Timberview facing the undefeated Indians, the Panthers could tie for second place by season's end by winning their remaining matchups.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.