GEORGETOWN — Cedar Park knew Tuesday’s regional semifinal game against Manor was going to be intense, but they were expecting a fist fight.
The Timberwolves were worn down by the end of the fourth quarter by the Mustangs’ suffocating and seemingly never-ending defense, losing 46-41 in the third round of the playoffs at Georgetown High School.
“Intense is one way to put the defense,” Cedar Park head coach Blake Brown said. “We just had a hard time generating good looks. We didn’t get the ball inside enough and we settled for too many jumpers. We were in a bind and it was very physical.”
Junior Jacob Hester led the Cedar Park scoring attack with 10 points. Ethan Kieke and Josh Baker each finished with eight points, Zach Herboek and Mathew Minor each finished with six points and Karson Cater added three to go along with countless assists.
Manor junior guard Jamal Shead scored 27 points, and scouts from a few Division I colleges were in attendance to watch him play.
This was the Timberwolves’ deepest postseason run since advancing all the way to the state semifinals in 2015.
Manor scored the first five points of the game, but Cedar Park went on a 7-0 run in the first quarter to take its first lead of the game. Baker scored a team-high five points for the Timberwolves in the opening quarter.
The Mustangs continued to ramp up the pressure and scored nearly half of their first-half points off of turnovers. The Timberwolves continued to play their own game and look for good shots and went into the break trailing by two points.
Much like the opening quarter, Manor started the third period with a run, but Cedar Park had an answer and retook the lead. The game slowed down in the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves continued to look for, and fail to find a good look on offense.
Cedar Park had three chances to tie the game on their final true possession of the game, but all clanked off the rim.
“It was hard for us to get into our set because there was an extreme amount of pressure,” Brown said. “That’s why we tell our guys that you need to have skill under pressure. We would have a very difficult time beating anybody under those circumstances.”
The Timberwolves have been consistent, to say the least over the last decade, making the playoffs every year since 2009 with a pair of trips past the third round.
And this season is right up there with the best, as Cedar Park won 28 games, the district, bi-district and area titles and continued to set the standard of consistency that they want the program to reach.
“We won a bunch of games and they fought their guts out all season,” Brown said. “That’s as good a compliment as you can give. Our guys played their butts off tonight and came up a little short.”