The lead changed hands six times in the last two minutes, but when the final buzzer sounded the Houston High School boys basketball team had earned a 36-35 victory in a South Central Association conference game Tuesday night at Cabool.

Not only did the Tigers overcome a pesky Bulldogs bunch that put together a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, but they won in spite of a huge free throw disparity, as Cabool went 14-for-21 from the line while Houston didn’t shoot a foul shot during the entire 32 minutes.

The Tigers jumped out to a 6-1 lead early in the contest on a pair of short-range baskets by sophomore John Kimrey and bucket from down low by junior Harold Lassiter.

After leading 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, Houston held the Bulldogs to only 3 points in the second period and had a 16-9 advantage at halftime.

HHS sophomore John Kimrey puts up a shot over Cabool sophomore Tyler Fleetwood during the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ win on Tuesday.

The two teams then traded blows in the third quarter and the margin remained the same going into the final period, with the Tigers up 23-16.

Cabool chipped away at the deficit down the stretch, and took the lead for the first time when sophomore Trey Atkins buried a 3-point shot to put the Bulldogs on top 33-31 with 1:02 to go in the game.

Houston went ahead 34-33 when senior guard Hunter McKinney nailed a 3-ball with 50 seconds left, but Cabool took the lead again at 35-34 on a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Josh Shockley with 37 seconds remaining.

Then with 12 seconds to go, McKinney connected on a layup on a nice inbounds play that began from the sideline in front of the Tigers’ bench to put the Tigers on top 36-35.

It turned out to be the game-winning basket.

After a couple of time outs, the Bulldogs got the ball to their end of the court and it was knocked out of bounds under their basket by a Houston player. Then with 1.3 seconds showing, Cabool executed a perfect inbounds play and got a wide-open layup.

But the ball didn’t draw iron and traveled harmlessly over the hoop, and the Tigers escaped with the win. The Bulldogs scored 19 points in the fourth quarter (more than they had during the entire rest of the game), but the missed shot dashed their hopes of a come-from-behind victory.

McKinney led Houston in scoring in the game with 13 points (including 8 in the fourth period), while junior point guard Garyn Hall had 9 (including 7 in the second quarter). Kimrey finished with 6 points, while senior Tanner Lee drained two treys and also had 6.

HHS senior Hunter McKinney puts up a shot with 10 seconds left in an SCA game Tuesday at Cabool. The shot was good and lifted the Tigers to a 1-point victory.

Atkins drilled three 3-pointers in the fourth period and led Cabool in scoring with 14 points, while Shockley had 10 and sophomore Aceton Gonzales added 6.

The Tigers (6-12, 1-2 SCA through Tuesday) travel to Liberty on Thursday and host Ava Friday on Hoop Queen night.

Houston hits the road again Saturday to face Ellington at the Bunker Shootout and hosts Willow Springs for an SCA matchup on Tuesday (Feb. 15).

To view a photo gallery from the Tigers’ game against Cabool (with the option to purchase photos), click here.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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