EULESS, Texas -- Irving MacArthur boys basketball coach Toby Martin gave Dequcelan Bagsby some good halftime advice for breaking out of a shooting slump.
“I told him if he could see just one ball through the net, things will turn around,’’ Martin said. “I wanted him to take the ball to the basket and try to get to the free throw line.’’
The 5-4 junior guard took the words to heart and responded with a breakout 18-point second half, leading the Cardinals to a 69-64 victory over Euless Trinity on Tuesday night at Trojans Gym.
“I knew we needed somebody to step up because the playoffs were on the line,’’ said Bagsby, who converted on eight free throw chances, all coming in the second half. “I look at myself as someone that can be a spark. I think of my height is an advantage. When I’m out there, I feel like I’m 6-1.’’
Said Martin: “Our guys love Dequcelan, not just for the way he plays, but they respect the obstacles he’s had to overcome.’’
Trinity coach Mark Villines said Bagsby is a tough matchup for his team.
“He hurt us the first time we played them, too,’’ Villines said. “He’s so quick, he can get to the basket, but he shoots well enough outside that you have to go out and guard him.’’
By winning, MacArthur (15-15) clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in District 6-5A with a 9-7 record.
Trinity (14-14, 7-9) could have forced a Friday play-in game with MacArthur had it won.
“There’s a big difference between play-in and playoff T-shirts,’’ Martin said.
Trinity led by 11 at halftime, but MacArthur put together a 13-0 run in the final three minutes of the third period. Bagsby scored seven in that stretch, including a 3-pointer seconds before the third-period buzzer for MacArthur’s first lead since the opening quarter.
The Trojans built the lead back to eight points in the fourth period, only to see MacArthur close the game on a 16-3 run.
“It is the same things that plagued us all year,’’ Villines said. “Turnovers, missed free throws and poor shot selection in crucial stretches.’’
MacArthur went ahead for good on Devonte Willis’ drive down the right side of the lane with 38 seconds remaining.
With its season on the line, Trinity failed to convert on its final two possessions.
Mike Udume led Trinity with 23 points and 6-8 sophomore Myles Turner had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
For MacArthur, Tavarius Shine had eight rebounds and matched Bagsby in points with 20.
Martin credited the defensive effort of Jordan Woods for holding sophomore Adrian Wong to two points and no field goals.
MacArthur will face District 5-5A champion South Grand Prairie (31-2) in a bi-district playoff.