In 2019, a driving layup at the buzzer by Tye Scogin sent the Jayton boys basketball team to the Class 1A state championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Friday night, with the Jaybirds locked in a nail-biter with Irion County at McMurry’s Kimbrell Arena, the senior took over the final 10 minutes and led eighth-ranked Jayton to a 43-31 win in a Region II-1A semifinal.
The Jaybirds will face seventh-ranked Paducah on Saturday afternoon with another state tournament berth on the line.
Scogin, who was held to six points in the first half, finished with a game-high 26 after putting his team on his back to put the Hornets away.
“I was trying to drive the ball and penetrate (the lane),” Scogin said. “At halftime, we talked about needing to penetrate and then kick out and I took that to heart. I tried to make it happen and I was hitting shots.”
With the majority of last year’s state finalist team back this season, Scogin said that experience paid dividends in the regional semifinals.
“That gym in San Antonio is huge and I think the fans weren’t as close (Friday night) but the atmosphere of playing there helped a lot,” he said. “We were used to it and you could tell that when we came out in warm-ups that we were relaxed and trying to play ball.”
Jayton coach Ryan Bleiker agreed that the experience of making a state championship game appearance last season helped. So, too, did being the top-ranked football team in the state all fall, he said.
“We talked before the game that we have played in bigger environments and bigger games,” Bleiker said. “I really think it keeps us very calm when things aren’t going right. We kept our composure and knew that we would eventually start hitting shots and get some breaks.”
After a hard-fought first half, the Jaybirds led 19-16 at the break. Jayton, though, was ice cold from the floor coming out of the locker room, and it wasn’t until a pair of free throws by Scogin with 2:19 left in the frame that the team scored in the quarter.
The Jaybirds defense came up with big plays during that time, however, and Irion County was only able to tie the game. The Hornets never led on the night.
Scogin then hit a pair of dagger 3-pointers in the final minute of the period to put Jayton up 29-22.
“We got some lucky breaks at the end of the third quarter that really spurred us to the victory,” Bleiker said. “We pride ourselves on defense because we usually aren’t in high-scoring affairs. The kids did such a good job knowing everything and adjusting on their own.”
During the offensive lull, Scogin said Jayton’s defense was focused on stopping Irion County freshman Trevin Coffell.
Coffell had a team-high 12 points for the Hornets — all from behind the 3-point arc, with three of those shots coming in the first half. Containing him in the second half was paramount for Jayton until finding its offensive rhythm.
“We talked (at halftime) about not helping off as much on him (defensively) and stacking down on the post,” said Scogin. “We were going to make them have to hit shots to beat us.”
Jayton had several players come up big Friday night, with senior guard Aaron Hernandez battling foul trouble. The Jaybirds committed 18 fouls in the game to 17 for Irion County as both teams lived at the free-throw line in the second half.
Jayton finished the night 15 of 20 at the free-throw line, while Irion County was just 11 of 23. Those missed opportunities were the difference in the game.
With Hernandez’ foul troubles, Jayton was forced to turn to a trio of bench players to step up. Bleiker, for his part, was proud of what he saw from the role players.
“Our bench really did a good job stepping in and playing,” the coach said. “Nathaniel (Williams) really stepped in and was a big spark for us the way that he played on offense and defense. Hunter (Gilbert) and Caleb (Valerio) did a great job of coming in and doing their role, which was really big for us.”
With the seven-point lead heading to the fourth quarter, it was Scogin who dominated the final eight minutes, scoring 12 of Jayton’s 14 points in the quarter. He hit his first eight free throws in the frame and finished the night 10 of 11 from the line.
Jayton’s five seniors are in their third regional tournament and now have a chance for just the second state tournament berth in school history.
“They are just so experienced that it really makes it easy whether it’s football or basketball,” said Bleiker. “They have so much experience being here, it’s easy for them to keep their calm and understand what’s going to happen.”
REGION II-1A SEMIFINAL
JAYTON 43, IRION COUNTY 31
Jayton — Tripp Scott 4 0-0 8, Mason Long 1 0-2 2, Nathaniel Williams 0 4-4 4, Pecos Smith 1 1-3 3, Tye Scogin 7 10-11 26. Totals 13 15-20 43.
Irion County — Kaden Councilman 0 3-6 3, Trevin Coffell 4 0-0 12, Dawson Sparks 1 3-7 5, Sawyer Paxton 0 2-2 2, Avery Theeck 1 0-0 2, Bo Morrow 0 0-2 0, Milot Morina 2 3-6 7. Totals 8 11-23 31.
3-Point Goals — Jayton 2 (Scogin 2); Irion County 4 (Coffell 4). Fouled Out —Councilman. Technical Fouls — None. Total Fouls — Jayton 18; Irion County 17.