KINGWOOD — Kingwood Park coach Jeffery Hamilton gathered his Panthers after the third quarter Wednesday night.
Lake Creek had just cut the Panthers’ lead to five points to begin the fourth quarter on the road.
Hamilton’s message to his team was simple in the huddle.
“We had to get tougher,” Hamilton said. “We had to match their intensity because they were getting more physical than us. They had more of a sense of urgency heading into the fourth quarter. We had to play with some poise and look for those good shots.”
Kingwood Park outscored Lake Creek 23-9 as the Panthers went on to win 53-34 in a District 20-5A game.
With the win, the Panthers (19-2, 8-1) take sole position of first place in district and control their own destiny to a district title. Lake Creek (12-7, 7-2) drops back to second place, but the series with Kingwood Park is 1-1 after the Lions won at home over the Panthers on Dec. 22.
Kingwood Park has never won a district title in school history and has never made it to the playoffs under Hamilton.
“This might be the biggest win in program history for us,” Hamilton said. “Kingwood Park has never won a district in school history and we haven’t won anything yet. I told our guys in the locker room that we still have a lot of games to play but we control what happens on the court. We just have to stay levelheaded and keep playing like we have.”
K-Park led by as many as 16 points, but the Lions were still able to bounce back to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
A cold shooting night for Lake Creek didn’t help the Lions get back into the game.
Hudson Boyd led the Lions with 15 points.
“A lot of credit to Kingwood Park,” Lake Creek coach Shannon Spencer said. “They closed out on us hard. I think we ended up shooting 6 for 25 so, that’s less than 25%. You’re not going to win too many games like that. We got killed on the boards. We didn’t block out well. Credit to K-Park…they did a tremendous job.”
Kingwood Park senior point guard Jack Keller, who had a game-high 23 points, was excited to get the win for his team.
Keller wanted his senior season to be special and so far, it has been with the Panthers off to an historic start.
“We haven’t been in too many of those situations in big time games and they (Lake Creek) have,” Keller said. “This was a huge win for us, and coach said this might be the biggest win in school history. We know we haven’t won anything yet and we just have to keep on going out and do what we have done all year and stay focus.”
Kingwood Park got off to a hot start with its three-point shooting.
The Panthers knocked down seven 3-pointers, which all came in the first half.
Brendan Tynan scored 12 points while hitting two three pointers.
“It’s the ultimate equalizer,” said Hamilton on the 3-point shooting. “Tonight, it was why we won the game by 19. We got off to such a good start behind the perimeter. I told our guys to get up the floor and kick it out to the side for those 3-point shots. We were able to hit a lot of them today.”
Lake Creek is still in position for at least a share of the district title and a playoff spot.
Spencer wants to see his team play consistent for all four quarters to close out district.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we have to clean up,” he said. “We got killed on the boards tonight and we have been doing a good job of getting those rebounds. We just have to get refocused and just start shooting the ball better and we will be fine.”
Lake Creek hosts third-place Porter at 1 p.m. Saturday.