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Wildcats reign supreme
Boys - Dibrell - trophy.jpg
Dibrell players celebrate on their way to collecting the championship trophy Thursday night. Pictured, from left, are Kaden Pendergraph, Eli Mietling and Syler Simmons.

The second half resembled a ride on The Scrambler with players flying around in circles at a dizzying pace.

Dibrell survived the mayhem and was able to fend off a frantic charge from Morrison to win the Morrison Ruritan Preseason Tournament on Thursday night, 34-32.

Dibrell held a 10-point lead at the half, up 19-9, but it was a different ballgame in the second half when Morrison cranked up the intensity of its full-court press. The pressure created havoc and allowed the Eagles to claw back and take the lead, 25-23, when Bradan Haggins floated to the rim for a 10-footer with 4:50 left.

But Dibrell showed resiliency. Towering post Chance Whitlock scored twice from the paint in the final 3:35 and tournament MVP Lee-Allen Esparza and Syler Simmons both made clutch foul shots in the final minute as the Wildcats prevailed.

“I was proud of the way we were able to maintain our composure when the pressure was on,” said Dibrell coach Dustin Curtis. “We knew the press was coming because that’s what they do. I was surprised we didn’t see it in the first half. When they speed up the game, that’s how they score. We wanted to make it a half-court game and take away their penetration on offense. I thought we executed our game plan well in the first half.”

Whitlock led Dibrell with 12 points, followed by Esparza with 9.

The top scorer for Morrison was Isaiah Robledo with 12, followed by Bradan Haggins with 11.

Morrison struggled to generate much offense in the opening half. The Eagles weren’t successful driving to the basket and their outside shots weren’t falling. The result was 2 points scored in the first quarter and a total of 9 points at halftime.

It was an entirely different game in the third quarter when Morrison extended its defense full court and the quick Eagles generated turnovers and points.

Morrison scored 7 straight points to start the third as Isaiah and Kristopher Robledo both scored layups off backcourt steals. Haggins tied the game early in the fourth with a steal and layup, then gave Morrison the lead, 25-23, with a pretty shot where he floated through the air.

Dibrell finally found success at breaking the press by tossing the ball high to Whitlock in the middle of the court. He was able to see over the defense and make outlet passes to teammates streaking toward the basket.

Dibrell scored 7 of its final 9 points from the foul line.

DIBRELL – Chance Whitlock 12, Lee-Allen Esparza 9, Syler Simmons 4, Alex Perez 4, Kaden Pedergraph 3, Jace Matheny 2

MORRISON – Isaiah Robledo 12, Bradan Haggins 11, Kristopher Robledo 5, Braxton Gibbs 2, Rylon Morrison 2