Elsik nips Pearland 52-51 in district contest

PEARLAND — The last thing Pearland head coach Steve Buckelew wanted was to start the new year with a district loss, but the Oilers missed a layup with only a few seconds left in the game and came up short 52-51 to the Alief Elsik Rams in a 23-6A contest.

Pearland is now 14-8 overall and 1-2 in district while the Rams improved to 6-12 on the season and 2-1 in league play.

Buckelew was coaching his 1,000 career basketball game entering the district context against the Rams with a 739-261 overall record. The veteran coach claimed his 500th win as the Pearland head coach earlier this season on November 20 when the Oilers beat Angleton 50-49. He has since won seven more games since then.

He earned career victory No. 500 against Huntington, Louisiana High School on November 19, 2009 with a 60-57 win as a result of an 85-plus foot bank shot by Kevin Williams at the final buzzer.

Career win No. 600 came in February 2013 when the Oilers beat Pasadena Dobie 62-48 and career win No. 700 came on February 25, 2017 when Pearland beat Brazoswood 83-48.

Needless to say, Buckelew is the winningest basketball coach in Pearland High School history.

Buckelew, now in his 23-third year as the Oilers' head coach, earned his first win at Pearland in 1996 and led the Oilers to the state semifinals against eventual state champion Midland in 1998 after winning the Class 5A Region III championship 54-42 over Alief Elsik and former NBA standout Rashard Lewis. The Oilers finished 29-9 that season.

The Oilers have advanced to the regional tournament twice under his guidance, and eight times Pearland has reached the regional quarterfinals.

While it appears that the Oilers will probably have another 20-plus win season, Buckelew knows that he wants to see his hard-court warriors make the playoffs.

The Oilers had a chance to win the game against the Rams in the final seconds, but a missed layup with six seconds left in the game led to the 52-51 district loss in the first round leaving them with a 1-2 mark.

Elsik led after the opening quarter 12-11 and then both teams pumped in 18 points apiece leaving the Rams with a 30-29 halftime lead.

The Oilers stayed in the game during the first half hitting four 3-pointers while Elsik also matched Pearland with four.

Pearland should have had the lead at intermission, but their performance at the free throw line (3-of-11) left them trailing at the half.

The Oilers came out with a hotter hand on offense in the third quarter outscoring the visitors 15-9 for a 44-39 lead heading into the final stanza.

But Pearland could manage only seven points down the stretch while the Rams fired in 13 to claim the 52-51 final score.

Javonne Lowery led the Oilers on offense with 14 points including a pair of treys. He was also 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the second half.