Magnolia coach Derek Cain knew his team would be in for a fight when it traveled to Willis for a rematch an overtime thriller between the teams back in January.
The Wildkats delivered on that premonition, but it was the Bulldogs who came out on top.
Magnolia made some key plays down the stretch and was nearly perfect from the free-throw line with the game hanging in the balance, leading to a 71-64 road victory in District 20-5A action on Friday evening.
The Bulldogs (20-9, 9-2) now have sole possession of second place in the league standings following the win, trailing only Huntsville (10-1), which earned an 86-60 victory over Brenham on Friday. Willis (19-13, 8-3) is alone in third place after the loss.
Magnolia will finish the regular season with a home game against Brenham on Tuesday before traveling to Waller and fourth-place Tomball. The Bulldogs have already clinched their ninth playoff berth over the past 10 seasons and still have a shot at the district title.
"You can't make mistakes against Willis," said Cain, whose team pulled out a 73-68 win against the Wildkats nearly a month ago. "You've got to play your perfect game to beat them. The great thing about this game is we had two guys with the flu (Andrew Lindvall and Josh Larramendi) who usually play 30 minutes. They probably played six minutes tonight, and we had guys off the bench that have been working hard in practice step up, and they did the job."
Jackson Moffatt led the charge for the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 29 points. The senior forward was clutch for his team in the fourth quarter, going 7-for-8 from the charity stripe and scoring 11 points. Moffatt is averaging more than 25 points per game during district play and entered Friday on the heels of a 40-point outing against Tomball Memorial earlier in the week.
"Everybody focuses on taking him out of the game, so it's very difficult for him, especially down the stretch after you've played everybody once," Cain said of his team captain. "When you can get into the bonus, he's pretty solid from the free-throw line."
Evan Palmquist was also a key contributor for the Bulldogs, finishing with 19 points, six steals and five assists. Griffin Lahners added nine points, and Lawson Lowry added seven.
Willis was led once again by Darius Mickens, who scored a game-high 34 points. Kudaveon Thurgood finished with 11 points, and Keith Kizzie added nine. Mickens has been on fire for the Wildkats of late, also collecting 45 points and 21 rebounds on Tuesday against Brenham.
"We're going to go as far as he leads us," Willis coach Michael Storms said. "He's being a lot more aggressive now, and he's shouldering the load. It's a joy to coach him, and we're just going to let him go."
Willis, which has already locked up its first playoff berth since the 2012-13 season, will finish the regular-season slate with home games against Waller and Tomball before visiting Huntsville.
"We've got a huge game on Tuesday against Waller," Storms said. "It's going to be to... Click here to read full article