DALLAS -- The third time was the charm for West Mesquite in its season series with District 15-4A rival Lancaster.
West Mesquite took the one that counted most, knocking Lancaster out of the 5A playoffs with a 64-63 win in the regional quarterfinals at Ellis Davis Field House on Tuesday.
With his team trailing 63-59, West Mesquite guard Braylon Rayson hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left to bring the Wranglers within one. The shot looked more like a half-court runner as Rayson threw up the prayer in traffic but sunk it like it was a routine set-shot.
“A 'W' went through my mind. I’m used to those shots but I don’t usually take them,” Rayson said. “My thought was just to score, and we needed a big 3 and I hit it.”
West Mesquite (28-7) forced a turnover on the inbounds pass with 20 seconds left and milked the clock until guard Jalen Etienne pulled up for a free throw line jumper that bounced back off the back iron. Etienne was able to gather his own rebound and hit a close floater, giving his team a one-point lead with nine ticks left.
“He was super huge tonight,” West Mesquite coach Todd Brewer said. “Did a great job defensively and came back late and did some big things. Super game for him.”
Etienne finished with 17 points, coming mostly in the second quarter off layups created by steals and turnovers. He trailed only Rayson, who finished with a team-high 18.
Lancaster’s Bobby Word also finished with 18 points.
Lancaster (21-7) had one last chance off a baseline inbounds play beneath its basket, but forward Daeshone Hall couldn’t make the ball fall into the net after it bounced several times on the rim, ending the Tigers' season.
“We tried to deny the cuts,” Brewer said. “We didn’t exactly do what we needed to in that situation. We still made a couple plays, he missed the shot and we’re here winning.”
West Mesquite went into the half up 36-30 after winning the first quarter for the first time in the team’s three-game season series. West Mesquite had held the lead in the second game of the three, but wavered in the second half, which led to a 91-64 Lancaster blowout.
The difference between the that game and Tuesday's, Brewer said, was the atmosphere surrounding the playoff game.
West Mesquite advances to the regional tournament to play South Oak Cliff at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Garland’s Special Event Center.
“Boy-howdy, I don’t know [when the last time West Mesquite played in the regional tournament],” Brewer said. “It’s been a while, but it’s definitely going to be fun.”