PROSPER — The No. 7 Commerce Tigers will play for a trip to the state tournament on Saturday thanks to strong defense in a 45-29 victory over No. 18 Edgewood in the Regional Semifinal round of the UIL 3A boys basketball playoffs Friday night at Prosper High School.

This was the second time this season that Commerce had beaten Edgewood, having previously defeated the Bulldogs 57-50 in the championship game of their own tournament on Dec. 1, 2018. Commerce accounted for two of Edgewood’s three losses this season.

The game got off to a very slow start, with both team showing uncharacteristically poor shooting in the early stages. Each team played excellent defense, almost cancelling each other out. The Tigers had the advantage after one quarter on the strength of three long shots to hold a 9-6 lead.

The offense picked up slightly in the second, with each team upping their scoring output, but neither could pull away to a definitive advantage. Very physical play under the rim and on fast breaks were highlights, and the Tigers slightly stretched their lead to 22-15 as the teams broke for halftime.

All of the momentum shifted in the direction of Edgewood as the teams returned, with the Bulldog defense stifling almost all scoring chances for the Tigers. Edgewood clawed back at the lead, but could not eclipse it, settling for a 24-24 tie as the game entered the final quarter. 

Commerce was held to just two points in that frame, a far-cry from the usually offensive explosions seen from the Tigers.

Just when the game seemed too close to call, the buckets started falling for Commerce as they snagged the lead again and began to slowly pull out a margin. As the minutes wound down, Edgewood was forced to foul, and the Tigers ended up making more free throws than field goals in the fourth. When the final horn sounded, Commerce had scored 21 points in the quarter — a stark contrast to their last frame — to walk away with the 45-29 victory.

Brothers Dodge and Sammy Brown each had 14 points on the night. Dodge only shot two-of-eight on Friday, but made nine of his 12 free throws to add to his scoring total. Dodge also had a double-double with 11 rebounds to go with three assists. Sammy had two boards and three assists. Casey Shields added just six points, but could’ve had more if not for shooting two-of-10 from the free throw line. Shields had 11 rebounds and dished out three assists.

Jaydon Harris added three points and nine rebounds, while Christian Scott scored eight. It was the third-consecutive playoff game for the Tigers where only starters scored points.

As a team, Commerce shot 38-percent from the floor and 36-percent from three-point range. 19 of the Tigers’ 31 total field goal attempts were three-pointers, marking the second consecutive game where Commerce attempted more shots from beyond the arc than inside of it.

After the game, Head Coach Roger Brown touted the defense of his team on Friday.

“We always stress defense and rebounding, but people don’t think we do because we usually shoot so much,” Brown said. “But we focus on good defense so we can win even when we don’t shoot well.”

The victory brings the Tigers to an overall record of 34-5, and catapults them into the final round of the Regional Tournament against Dallas’ James Madison High School. The Trojans make the final ranked No. 3 in the state and after having defeated Tatum 74-48 on Friday.

The winner of Saturday’s game will represent Region II in the UIL State Tournament. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Prosper High School.

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