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Free throws lift Plano West over N. Crowley

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Plano West guard Deshon Portley had had this dream many times before, but he had also lived it out as a nightmare.

With 3.1 seconds left Friday in a Class 5A Region I Semifinal game against North Crowlely, Portley's team was down by one poiant as he stepped to the free throw line with two shots.

Last year in the prestigious Whataburger Tournament, Portley was in a similar situation, and his free throws would have sent the Wolves to the championship game. But Portley missed both, and Plano West lost.

Friday, Portley tuned everything out and nailed both shots, sealing a 59-58 win for Plano West at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. The Wolves (26-8) will face Marcus (35-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday, also at Wilkerson-Greine,s with the winner advancing to next weekend's state tournament.

"People were trying to walk up to me, and I tried to tune them out," said Portley, who finished with 12 points. "It was just me and the rim, that's all."

Aaron Anwary led Plano West with 13 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter that helped the Wolves make a furious comeback after an early deficit. Geoffrey Groselle had 11 points for Plano West, and Jackson Jeffcoat scored 10.

Kameron Price led North Crowley with 18 points, Kyan Anderson had 13 points and Justin Daniel 10.

North Crowley (33-5) led 10-1 just 3½ minutes into the game as Plano West committed six turnovers in the first quarter, but that lead dwindled to 28-27 by halftime.

Plano West took its first lead at 33-31 with 5:31 to play in the third quarter while the Wolves were in the midst of a 12-0 run. Portley scored eight points in the run, and Plano West's lead was 39-31 by the time it was over. The Wolves led 43-39 after the third quarter.

Price started the fourth with a 3-pointer, a steal, then another 3-pointer. In that 14-second span, the Panthers regained the lead.

"He is a great kid," North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel said of the senior Price. "We talked a lot about whose will was going to be the toughest tonight, not wanting to go home. I thought Kameron Price showed a lot of will."

Anwary's third 3-pointer of the game came with 4:47 to play and gave Plano West a 49-48 lead. From that point, the lead changed hands eight times.

North Crowley, which made just 9 of 19 free throws for the game, made 2 of 5 from the line in the last five minutes, including a miss on the front end of a one-and-one with 19.5 seconds left. Plano West got the rebound off that miss, leading to Portley's dream-come-true moment.

North Crowley's last shot attempt with a second to go was off the mark.

"Coach talks to us everyday and tells us not to give up," Portley said. "That's our mentality going into the game."

And that's been somewhat of a theme for the Wolves this season: to win close games.

"We're fortunate that we got a couple of breaks at the end and the foul call late put us on the line," Plano West coach Anthony Morgan said. "Those are the kind of games you want to go all night, where both teams are battling, kids know what's on the line and they don't want to go home. You get your best effort.

"It was a great night and we'll take the win."