Tatum ends Melissa's first state tournament run

(Box score from the UIL)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Melissa's boys basketball team could not overcome Tatum’s physical play Friday, dropping the Class 2A state semifinal matchup, 70-57, at Frank Erwin Center.

Tatum pressured Melissa into 22 turnovers, forced and unforced.

“I credit that to the physicality of the game,” Melissa head coach Clint Sadler said. “It’s easier to have unforced turnovers [when] ... there is so much contact and physicality and you're getting bumped. You almost expect that to happen every pass you make. That causes you to be a little off on some of the other passes you’re trying to make.”

Tatum turned the turnovers into 18 points, with 16 coming on fast breaks.

A physical game did not suit Melissa, which was not nearly as deep as Tatum. Tatum head coach Brett Carr was able to platoon players into the game with success, as the bench tallied 20 points.

“We got off to a great start but their physicality continued to wear us down as the game went on,” Sadler said. “They had a lot of depth as well. They played nine or 10 guys and we didn’t quite have that depth.”

When Melissa was able to create in the half court, missed layups prevented the Cardinals from gaining any momentum. Melissa shot 40 percent from the field for the game, 37 percent in the second half.

Tatum’s Desmond Fite led all scorers with 21 points, nine off 3-pointers.

Two senior guards lead Melissa in scoring, with Zach Helmberger getting 16 and Hondo Webb adding 15.

The loss was Melissa’s second of the season and ended the school’s first state tournament trip. The Cardinals' only other loss came to ESPN Dallas 4A No. 6 Dallas Woodrow Wilson in the DISD Postseason Classic.

“We set an example for everyone else coming through,” Webb said. “We set the bar and now everyone just needs to go try and beat that bar and get above that and strive for greatness.”