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Cardinals battle to end in tough loss to Wharton

HUFFMAN – A tremendous Bridge City basketball season came to a tough ending Wednesday night as the Wharton Tigers held off the Cardinals 58-55 in the Class 4A Region III area round of the playoffs at Huffman High School.

The Cardinals (18-10) led the Tigers (15-4) 24-16 at halftime.

However, the Tigers went on a 20-9 spurt in the third quarter to lead 36-33 heading to the fourth.

The fourth quarter was full of dramatics and offensive explosions by both teams as each team scored 22 points in the final eight minutes.

Wharton freshman Jerrell Barron was a thorn in the Cardinals’ side in the fourth period. He finished with 15 points, 12 of them coming in the last period as he hit three three-pointers in the quarter.

A Barron three-pointer gave the Tigers a 53-49 edge but Bridge City senior Austin Richardson, who had 16 points, answered on the other end with a three-pointer of his own.

Richardson gave the Cardinals a 55-54 edge with 0:18 left with a nice floating jump shot in the lane.

Wharton, however, would score the game’s last four points as Fred Jones, who had 14 points, scored on a turnaround jumper in the lane with 9 seconds left. The Cardinals had one last chance when they inbounded the ball with 0:03 left but they turned the ball over and Jones scored a layup at the other end.

Senior Gabe Castillo, the Cardinals’ leading scorer for the season, was saddled with his fourth foul with 4:18 left in the third. He never fouled out and joined Richardson as the Cardinals’ leading scorers on the night with 16.

Fellow senior standout guard Grant Boudreaux finished with seven points but went down with an ankle injury with less than four minutes remaining.

Forward James Jones led the Tigers with 16 points, but like Castillo, he was saddled with his fourth foul with 2:23 in the third.

The Cardinals struggled a little bit early on against Wharton’s full-court pressure.

The Tigers led 10-4 but the Cardinals scored the last five points of the period, all by Richardson, including a big three-pointer, to trim it to 10-9.

The Cardinals then controlled the second quarter, outscoring Wharton 15-6 in the quarter as Castillo poured in 10 points in the period with three field goals while going a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

Richardson had another big three-pointer in the second quarter and had nine points at the half while Boudreaux filtered in five points as the Cardinals led 24-16 at the half.

Jones, Wharton’s burly forward, led his team with eight points in the half while Raymond Hudson had four points.