PROSPER — A valiant comeback effort came up just short as the No. 7-ranked Commerce Tigers fell to the No. 3 James Madison Trojans by a score of 57-55 in the Regional Final round of the UIL 3A boys’ basketball playoffs Saturday at Prosper High School.
The loss ends the Tigers’ longest playoff run since Commerce was a state semifinalist in 1996.
For the second game in a row, the normally stout offense of the Tigers was heavily defended, and Commerce had trouble getting shots to go. Madison on the other hand enjoyed some successes from deep, giving them a 16-11 lead after one quarter.
Madison extended their lead in the early stages of the second, but a late push from Commerce had the momentum swinging in their favor as they cut down the lead to only trail by two. The halftime score was 25-23 in favor of the Trojans.
The second half started on a rotten note for Commerce, as Madison seemed to stop all of the Tigers’ momentum and had a lead of as many as nine points. The deficit had stabilized at eight points as the third frame ended, giving Commerce just eight minutes to turn the tide with their season on the line.
At that point, senior guard Dodge Brown had a team-leading 17 points. As soon as the fourth quarter began, he took the game into his own hands, going on a scoring run that will go down as an all-time great moment in Tigers athletics.
Brown hit three straight three-pointers on consecutive possessions to put Commerce ahead. This was the bulk of a 14-0 run to start off the fourth for the Tigers, completely flipping the game around in favor of Commerce who now held a six-point advantage.
On their heels, Madison players recomposed themselves and began to fight back. After some chippy play back and forth, the Trojans managed to knot the game up at 52-all with very little time to play. Commerce regained the lead and was ahead 55-54 as the final minute ticked down. But with less than 15 seconds to play, Madison’s Jerome Rogers pull up a deep shot that swished into the net to give his team a two-point lead with time winding down. Commerce fought back to get a final shot, but missed their final attempt, with the ball winding up back in the hands of the Trojans. Commerce’s season ended at a score of 57-55.
Dodge Brown carried the team on his back in his final game as a Tiger. He ended with 35 points, with 18 of those coming in the final quarter alone. He also had three rebounds and an assist. Casey Shields had eight points, eight boards and three assists, and Jaydon Harris added five points and five rebounds.
As a team, Commerce shot a respectable 45-percent from the floor, but only managed to hit 30-percent of their shots from downtown.
The loss brings the Tigers’ season to a close at a record of 34-6 overall, with Commerce being outright champions of District 13-3A with a perfect 12-0 record.
Seniors Dodge Brown, Casey Shields, Colton Broeske and Carlton Dodd will depart the team to graduate. Commerce has three of their starting five set to return next season, with Sammy Brown and Christian Scott returning for their senior season, while Jaydon Harris will be a junior.