GARLAND — A deep playoff run by Prosper boys basketball ended prematurely with a 44-40 loss on Friday, March 2 in the Class 5A Region II semifinals against Midlothian at the Curtis Culwell Center.
Midlothian senior guard Kaden Archie enforced his will late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, scoring the final six points of the game and making a pair of clutch defensive plays down the stretch. Archie, a TCU signee, scored a game-high 19 points, including a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining to ice the game.
“Their superstar played like a superstar in the second half,” Prosper head coach Jonathan Ellis said. “Not just offensively, but defensively too.”
The defensive struggle started slowly for both sides. The game was tied at seven after the first quarter. Junior guard Josh Davis scored the first six points for Prosper. In the second, No. 9 Midlothian struggled shooting the ball, allowing Prosper to build a 23-15 lead heading into halftime.
“I thought we played good defense,” Ellis said. “They just weren’t hitting shots. We were getting some defensive rebounds, and it worked on our favor.”
The third quarter was the most pivotal period of the game. Midlothian outscored Prosper, 21-8, which included a dominant 20-3 scoring run. Open shots began to fall for the Panthers, and the Prosper offend became stagnant and turned the ball over four times.
“Unfortunately, that’s been our Achilles heel all year,” Ellis said. “Taking care of the ball hurt us in the third period, and a couple free throws hurt us at the end.”
Despite struggling in the third, Prosper came back and hung around until the final minute. The Eagles slowly chipped away at the deficit and tied the game at 38-38 with 3:20 remaining. However, Prosper was unable to score in the final two and a half minutes — the Eagles had the ball with 19 seconds left down by two points, but a driving layup attempt by senior Zach Wrightsil did not fall.
It was a rough offensive game for both sides. Davis and Wrightsil combined to shoot 7-for-21 from the field. Senior Kyle Jessen also struggled, finishing with three points. Grant Shaw kept Prosper in the game with some big shots, going 3-for-4 from three-point range.
Prosper had not lost a game since Jan. 16, a 54-52 nail-biter against district rival Little Elm. Overall, Prosper finished the season ranked No. 5 in the state with a 32-4 overall record, good for the second-best record in school history.
It was the first game Prosper has played at the Curtis Culwell Center since last year’s heartbreaking first round loss. Both the Prosper boys and girls basketball teams remain winless in four total games hosted at the Culwell Center in Garland.
“Last year hurt,” Ellis said. “We were in this building when that shot went in. They motivated me through the off-season just as much as I was trying to motivate them.”
It was the first time in school history that Prosper or Midlothian had advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs. Midlothian moved on to the state semifinals after defeating Lancaster, 48-45, on a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the regional final on Saturday, Mar. 3.
As for Prosper, the future is still bright. Davis and Shaw will be returning to the varsity squad next year — as for the seniors, Ellis will always remember them as a special group.
“They put the passion in me to do this for 15 more years,” he said. “There’s times where this job gets tough. You don’t see your kids or your family as much. This group just made me want to keep going and keep coaching.”