Highlanders fall to New Mexico

Highlanders fall to New Mexico

The McLennan Highlanders' season came to an end with a 70-67 loss to the New Mexico Thunderbirds in the Region V Tournament in Brownwood.

Ricardo Artis put the Highlanders on the board with a layup less than a minute into the game. New Mexico responded with three consecutive 3-pointers to take the early 9-2 lead. The Highlanders fought back, taking the 22-21 lead with 6:47 remaining in the first half. McLennan led 36-30 with 1:47 to play before the break. The Thunderbird ended the half on a 5-0 run to trim the lead to one at halftime, 36-35.

New Mexico took the lead on the first possession of the second half and extended it to nine, 57-48, with 9:19 remaining in the game. The Highlanders began to chip away and trailed 61-60 with just over five minutes to go. Rashaan Surles drained a 3-pointer with four minutes to play, giving McLennan its first lead in the second half, 63-61. The Thunderbirds took the lead on a layup and free throw by Imani Jackson with 1:56 to go and led 70-65 with 7.56 seconds to play. A Surles layup cut the lead to two with 3 seconds remaining. New Mexico turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds play, giving McLennan a chance. But Jalen Jones' 3-point attempt bounced off the iron, ending the hope for a comeback.

Artis led the Highlanders with 21 points. James Harrison and Surles added 12 each.

McLennan ends the season with an overall record of 23-8.

New Mexico: Imani Jackson 4 4-5 12; Jeremy Postell 1 0-0 3; Tyler Blount 1 0-0 3; Malique Trent 3 1-2 10; Randy Haynes 1 0-0 2; Rene Esparza 3 5-8 12; Desmond Medder 1 4-6 6; Cullen Russo 3 7-8 13; Ray Barreno 2 0-0 4; Karim Diop 2 0-0 5; Totals: 21 21-29 70.

McLennan: Rashaan Surles 5 0-1 12; K.J. Boyd 1 0-0 2; Jalen Jones 3 3-3 9; Elijah Mayes 1 0-0 2; James Harrison 4 2-2 12; Alex Mills 1 0-0 3; Ricardo Artis 6 9-13 21; Jeff Beverly 1 0-0 2;
Aundre Jackson 2 0-2 4; Totals: 24 14-21 67.

3-pointers: New Mexico 7 (Trent 3, Postell 1, Blount 1, Esparza 1, Diop 1), McLennan 5 (Surles 2, Harrison 2, Mills 1); Total fouls: New Mexico 18, McLennan 22; Fouled out: McLennan (Artis), New Mexico (Jackson); Halftime score: McLennan 36, New Mexico 35; Record: McLennan 23-8 (8-4).