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Aledo edges Granbury as Pacheco hits game-winner

Feb. 6—ALEDO — Following an entertaining girls game, the Aledo Bearcats boys basketball team took center stage against the Granbury Pirates on Tuesday night. Aledo, the fourth-place team in District 5-5A, was able to maintain a slim advantage throughout the game entering the fourth quarter, but Granbury did not back down — nearly forcing overtime in the process. However, Bearcats' standout junior guard Joaquin Pacheco had other ideas as he called game with a buzzer-beating midrange jumper with 1.3 seconds left to lift Aledo to a thrilling 46-44 win.

"It was a big-time shot and we just knew we needed to get the ball inbounds and in Joaquin's hands," Bearcats head coach JD Robinson said. "We knew if we could do that, then we'd have a pretty good chance of getting a bucket. Jack (Sawyer) did a great job of being a decoy there — he would do anything to help this team win. He set a good ball screen, got it into Joaquin's hands and he made a play."

The shot itself was thrilling for the home fans to witness, and Pacheco relished the opportunity that officially punched Aledo's ticket to the postseason.

"I love it. The second the ball touched my hands, I got excited because I wanted the last shot," Pacheco said. "I brought it up the middle, Jack set the screen, I saw the defender was cheating, I made a move and Jack gave me a perfect shot."

The Bearcats built a 14-9 lead after the first quarter came to a close and continued to use a combination of timely offense and stifling defense to the tune of a 22-15 halftime lead.

"Giving up 15 points in the first half was huge and really set the tone defensively," Robinson said. "We knew they (Granbury) were going to make a run, they're a good bunch and well coached, so we just had to weather the storm. We're far from perfect but our kids play so hard and play the right way."

Aledo kept the momentum going in the third quarter, using a 5-0 run to open up a 27-15 lead. However, Granbury responded with a 10-2 scoring spurt to pull within 29-25. Senior forward Cohen Christie hit a layup with 2:50 left and senior guard Jackson Todd followed that with a pair of free throws with 1:23 left to extend the lead to 33-27 to create separation, and the home team entered the fourth quarter with a 35-30 advantage.

Pacheco opened the fourth with a positive play as he stole the ball from a Granbury player and converted the turnover into two points as he raced to the basket, giving Aledo a 37-30 lead with 7:30 remaining in regulation. However, Granbury quickly stormed back into contention, tying the game with a 7-0 run at 37-all with 5:55 left.

After that, senior post Jack Sawyer connected from distance with 5:15 to go, but Granbury came right back with a triple of its own to keep the score tied at 40-40 with 4:55 left. Later in the quarter, Todd nailed a floater in the lane with 1:31 remaining to give Aledo a 44-42 advantage, but a steal-and-score opportunity for Granbury tied the game one final time at 44-all. Granbury's tying layup set the stage for Pacheco, who got a good screen from Sawyer, to rise up from midrange and nail a pull-up midrange jumper that gave Aledo the lead for good with 1.3 seconds left.

"We've come a long way since the beginning of the season, it's crazy how much we've improved," Pacheco said. "The confidence is crazy. We're taking tough shots but have guys that can hit them, and we've been moving the ball so well lately — we're trusting each other to make the right play."

Pacheco led Aledo with 14 points while Sawyer had 12. Todd netted 10 points and senior guard Owen Peterson had six.

Aledo (17-11, 6-4) clinched a playoff berth with the victory and will take the court again at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Rider.