MIDLOTHIAN – Colton Rapp does not have an answer on why he took a pull-up, step back jumper with Midlothian’s game against Grand Prairie still in the balance. The Panthers are sure glad he did.
Blaine Blackburn hit Rapp with a pass just outside the lane with 45.4 seconds left as the sophomore elevated for the go-ahead jumper and a 45-44 lead. Blackburn tacked on two free throws moments later to seal a 47-44 win and a season sweep of Grand Prairie.
“I don’t know why I shot it. It just felt right,” Rapp said. “We work on that a lot in practice and it just came I guess.”
Rapp’s shot was just one of numerous odd moments in a game that featured a completely different feel from most contests this season. Two players fouled out and four others played much of the second half with three or more fouls. The foul troubles forced Midlothian coach Glenn Hartson to rely on young players and go to his bench early and often, thrusting guys like Rapp, Cody Meyers and Sawyer Golden into big roles.
Hartson was pleased to see those young players respond.
“I told them to get in there and play, have fun and quit being scared,” Hartson said. “A lot of them haven’t had a lot of playing time but by now, at this time of the year, when they get in there they ought to be more relaxed and they haven’t been. But I think tonight they got a lot of playing time and once they got in the groove of the game they flowed a lot better.”
Meyers finished with 12 points while Rapp added 6 and Golden contributed 4. Blackburn finished with the team lead at 16. Foul troubles slowed the team’s leading scorer, Derick Agbaroji, as he finished with just 6.
Fouls weren’t the only adversity the Panthers faced against the Gophers as Midlothian trailed by 10 early in the first period and was down 17-10 at the end of the first. The team battled back behind a 12-4 run to close the second period and trailed 30-28 at half.
Meyers scored 6 of the team’s 10 third period points as the Panthers headed into the fourth down just one at 39-38.
Brandon Mundie tied the game with a free throw at 41 where the score remained until Grand Prairie took a 44-41 lead with 1:19 left. Though he had a slow night, Agbaroji got the team back on track with a layup off a Mundie pass to make it a 1-point game with 1:06 left. Moments later, Blackburn stole a ball leading to the Rapp shot that turned the game.
The next Gopher possession was a miss as Blackburn corraled the rebound and was sent to the free throw stripe. He connected on both shots with 11.9 left to essentially ice the game and give the Panthers their second district win of the season.
While a win with just a few games left in the season was a morale booster for the team, Hartson was proud to see his players respond to adversity despite having nothing left to play for besides pride.
“It just shows that they’re not quitting. It’s not a group that’s going to quit, I’m not going to let them. It just shows their character and what kind of team they are,” Hartson said.
“They’ve had some tough bumps along the way and they could have just quit when they got down 10 and they didn’t. I think that’s a true testament of character on their part.”
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