The Canterbury Cardiac Kids, aka the Cougars boys’ basketball team, won a tough do-or-die match-up against the Austin Waldorf Roadrunners on their home court Saturday night in a TAPPS 2A Area Playoff contest.
Canterbury, currently ranked No. 1 in TAPPS 2A and No. 2 in the TABC (coaches) poll, sailed through their first round playoff game last week against McKinney Christian but found the going not so easy against a good shooting Roadrunner team.
The Cougars run a fast paced offense and full court press on defense that generally provides a wide winning margin, but it was not until 1:30 left in the first that they took their first lead with a turnaround layup in the paint by senior point guard Jabari Coner. The first quarter ended with the Coogs facing a one point deficit 20-19, with junior guard Tyler Mathis and senior center D.J. Kosoris scoring along with Coner.
Waldorf was well represented with nearly as many fans as the home team and the noise level in the gym was well into the “unsafe” range.
The Coogs found themselves in unfamiliar territory at the half down 36-29, with Kosoris and Mathis in foul trouble early and coach Scott Vaughn electing to save them for the second half; junior guard Corey Durant popped in a clutch three and at the buzzer senior guard Tyler Ramirez added another from downtown to keep it close enough.
Cougar fans were bracing and hoping for a wild third, looking for a turnaround.
The Cougars did not disappoint as the starting five took the floor running but it was not until Ramirez dropped in a layup at 2:53 in the third quarter that it was finally tied and Canterbury took a 46-42 lead going into the fourth. Their defense had held the Runners to only six points in the third stanza, all of them on free throws.
The Coogs were unable to hit their shots from the stripe, however, leaving at least a dozen points on the table during the game as the free throws simply would not fall for them.
A minute into the fourth, a three pointer by Mathis pushed the lead to 5 but at 5:15 the game was tied once again as the Cougars gave up too many second chance shots on the defensive boards.
Mathis knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to counter jumpers by the Runners and the lead changed hands by a point or two until Kosoris dropped in a free throw at the one minute mark to give the Coogs the lead, followed by a pair from Ramirez in some cool clutch shooting at 33.5 for a three-point Canterbury lead.
Waldorf fought its way to a field goal and a heart stopping 61-60 score and fouled Mathis on the ensuing inbound, who sealed the deal with a free throw at 10.5 seconds for a 62-60 lead that held as the Roadrunners final shot clanged off the iron and jubilant fans drowned out the buzzer.
Stat totals for the Coogs were: Mathis, scoring leader with 24 point, Kosoris with 10 points and 12 boards, Ramirez with nine points, Coner eight points, senior Erick Davis with four points and seven rebounds, Durant three points, senior Daniel Bryce two points and sophomore Chase Thomas with two points.
The Canterbury Episcopal Cougars will advance to the regional playoff round Saturday against Amarillo Arbor Christian, at Nolan Catholic School in Fort Worth at 1 p.m.
Dr. Jeff Kosoris is a Canterbury parent and regular press contributor for the Canterbury Athletic Department.