MAYPEARL — Friday night's 70-48 rout of the Bulldogs at Maypearl High School Gymnasium, didn't just earn Panthers a fifth district win, it also helped them stay in the District 17-3A title chase.
Maypearl High School (15-7, 5-2) remained in third place behind one-loss Grandview High School and undefeated Rice High School.
The Panthers used junior point guard Tariq Massey's 24-point and 10-rebound double-double and 14 points and seven rebounds from junior Jake Wiggins, as well as 15 from senior Brandon Wright, to outpace their Ellis County rival in every quarter except the first.
Despite Palmer sprinting to a 17-14 lead in the first eight minutes, Maypearl rallied and led an 18-1 run in the second quarter. The Panthers led 32-18 at halftime.
Outside of Massey, Wiggins and Wright's double-digit outputs, five other players scored at least one basket and helped Maypearl shoot 46 percent (30-for-65) from the field — including 52 percent (28-for-54) on 2-point field goals. Sophomore Carson McManus and junior Garrett Evans totaled six and five points, respectively, and seniors Jared Caldwell and Taylor Mease and junior Gunner Petty added two points each.
It was also the 12th game the Panthers scored 60 or more points in a game this season.
Maypearl held Palmer to 31 points through 24 minutes of high shool basketball and forced more than 15 turnovers via 12 steals from Petty (3), junior Tucker Talley (3), Massey (2), Wiggins (2), Wright (1) and Evans (1). Evans and McManus each had two blocks apiece.
While Palmer will play District 17-3A No. 1 Rice (14-4, 7-0) at 5 p.m. at PHS Gymnasium, Maypearl will play Keene High School 7:30 p.m. at KHS Gymnasium. Both matchups are scheduled for Tuesday.
A Palmer win would put Rice and Grandview in a two-way tie for first place and open the door for Maypearl to have an opportunity to claim a district title as a two-loss team. It would also give the Bulldogs their biggest win of the season and put the school back on the path to earning the final postseason slot.
Maypearl, which needs to win each of their remaining games to have a chance to claim the district's top spot before season's end, will face a Chargers team that it beat 58-39 on Jan. 7.
The last time the Panthers got close, they finished 13-2 and second behind Godley High School in District 15-2A under former Head Coach Joel Donaldson. Between 2008 and 2016, Maypearl has a combined 27-57 boys varsity basketball record.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.