FM Marcus uses fast start to reach region final

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Nick Banyard scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead Flower Mound Marcus past North Crowley, 66-55, to advance to the 5A Region 1 final.

Oklahoma State commit and ESPNU 100 No. 12 Marcus Smart had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and his fellow OSU commit Phil Forte dropped in 13 points.

Smart and Banyard both said they were feeling ill before the game.

"It was hard for me to breath in the first half," Smart said. "It go so bad that I could barely get up and down the court, and I felt like I was about to pass out."

Banyard, who only scored two points in the first half, said he knew he'd have to step it up coming out of the locker room.

"I came into the second half frustrated and coach said they needed me to win the game," Banyard said. "He said to just keep up the hard work and it will all come to you."

Marcus jumped out to an 18-7 first-quarter lead off the hot shooting of Smart and Forte. The game was turning into a blowout as the Marauders continued their run to go up 23-7, but North Crowley made a 9-0 run to get back to the game.

North Crowley's Braxton Reeves hit back-to-back three pointers and Quinton Moncrief hit a layup with three seconds left in the first half to cap off a 17-4 run to go into the locker room down just 27-24.

The teams traded buckets throughout the third. A late Banyard 3-pointer put Marcus up 42-35 heading into the fourth quarter.

Marcus extended its lead on Banyard's huge alley-oop from A.J. Luckey to go up 57-43 with 3:49 left.

The jam silenced the North Crowley crowd, but it didn't slow down the Panthers. They responded with a 9-4 run to bring North Crowley within nine points at 61-52 with 1:14 left in the game.

Marcus shut down the Panthers offense in the last minute to squash any comeback chances.

Braxton Reeves led North Crowley with 17 points.

The Marauders take on South Grand Prairie on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fort Worth's Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.