Wildcats bring 'A' game to finale
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 20, 2004 -- Steve Glover talked about his team remembering its last game, and Sulphur Springs took their coach's sentiments to heart and brought their "A" game to the court Tuesday on senior night.

Junior post Rolaundo Wright had a double-double with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, Ryan Allison had 14 points and Jeremy White added 13 points and seven boards in his final game as a Wildcat, as SSHS saved its best for last with a 58-37 win over McKinney North.

"We didn't achieve everything we wanted to but still went out on a good note," White said. "We wanted to win our last game.

"We knew they were an outside shooting team and shut them down with our 2-3 zone. We didn't allow them to make as many threes or free throws as the first time we played them."

The Wildcats (12-18, 5-5 District 11-4A) shot 50 percent from the floor (22-of-44) and had one of their better nights from three-point land, making 7-of-14 attempts. SSHS outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-26 and held them to 28 percent shooting (13-of-47), including only 2-of-21 from three-point range.

SSHS gave MNHS a dose of its own medicine, switching from man-to-man to a zone defensive attack. Glover said he thought the change was beneficial, considering the Bulldogs' struggles from the floor.

"We wanted to go man, but they weren't shooting the ball too well," Glover said. "I thought the zone helped us out a lot, and we were able to take advantage of it.

"We played a much better second half after a pretty good first quarter and dry second quarter. The defense was good, and we ran our fastbreak well in the second half."

The Wildcats held a 10-point lead entering the third quarter and went on a 9-0 run in the first five minutes. White scored off a Jonathan Lindley pass to start the half, Wright scored four points and Allison added the second of his two 3-pointers for a 39-20 advantage. McKinney North's Andrew Douthit's jumper ended a 6:49 scoring drought from the end of the second quarter. White took another Lindley assist and drained his third three of the night to continue the bleeding for the Bulldogs.

MNHS didn't go down quietly, going on a 9-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter thanks to guard Brent Booker, who single-handedly turned a loss into overtime and an eventual come-from-behind win in the team's first meeting Jan. 30. Booker scored all nine of the points in the Bulldog run and finished with 11 on the night. His putback with 6:46 left in the game brought MNHS within 42-31.

"Sulphur Springs was a lot better basketball team than we were tonight and seemed to play inspired," MNHS head coach Tom Whillock said. "Not to take anything away from them, but I don't think our guys were ready to play.

"We didn't shoot well from the floor or the free throw line. We're normally a good free throw shooting team, and missing four in a row the way we did in the first quarter shows me that we weren't focused."

The Bulldogs (12-18, 3-7) crept to within 10 at the 4:22 mark on two Douthit free throws, after Allison was called for a technical foul for throwing the ball at a MNHS player while falling out of bounds. Allison didn't let it phase him, scoring eight points in a decisive 12-0 run. Tyler Thomas also scored during the run, and Hutton Harris added a free throw with 21.1 seconds left. Lindley ended his career on a bright note, scoring off a putback just before the final buzzer sounded.

"We knew we had to step up and finish things with this being our last game of the year," Thomas said. "They didn't have as successful a night as they did at their house, and we were hitting our shots."

The game was tied 4-4 early, when White scored eight straight points, including two 3-pointers, while Wright's layup put SSHS up eight. Putbacks by Thomas and Wright gave the Wildcats an 18-8 lead after the first quarter.

Wright scored again off an offensive rebound, while sophomore guard Josh Riley hit two straight threes in what wound up being a 12-2 run over a 5:02 span that increased the lead to 26-10. Three points each from Kenny McGowan and Eric Herbal along with a Jose Rodriguez free throw cut the Bulldog deficit to seven, but Allison scored his first bucket of the night on a three to send SSHS into halftime with a 30-20 lead.

"I'm glad our kids can go out as winners, because there was a lot of pride at stake," Glover said. "They wanted to play well in front of their parents and fans, and there was none of the selfishness that sometimes goes along with a final game. Unselfishness was the trademark of this team, and they were a tight-knit group of kids. They're a great group of young men and were a fun team to watch and coach.

"I'm proud of the way they bounced back after a heartbreaking week on the road. There was some motivation with senior night, and I'm glad they were able to finish off the season the way they did."

The 9-for-16 night at the free throw line was uncharacteristic for MNHS, as Herbal and Kyle Paxton both missed two free throws early that could've kept the Bulldogs in the game.

Notes: Seniors White, Thomas, Lindley, Harris and Ryan Henry along with student trainer Laci McCaig were honored before the game for their contributions to the basketball program. ...Whillock said that although it was a disappointing end to the season, that he was proud of his team's inaugural group of seniors, and he was quick to point out that nine of his 11 players have 4.0 or higher grade-point averages.

McKinney North JV 49, Sulphur Springs 42

Johnny Barnard and Beno Griffen scored 13 points each in the Bulldogs' come-from-behind win.

The Wildcats shutout MNHS 14-0 in the first quarter and held a 24-17 halftime lead. The Bulldogs returned the favor in the third quarter by outscoring SSHS 16-4 in the third quarter to take a 33-28 lead into the final eight minutes.

Jose Vargas led the Wildcats with 12 points.

McKinney North 0 17 16 16 --49

Sulphur Springs 14 10 4 14 --42

McKinney North -- Johnny Barnard 13, Beno Griffen 13, Blake Mooney 9, Angelo Aragona 8, Andrew Hamilton 3, Zach Plummer 2, Jeremy Nelson 1.

Sulphur Springs -- Jose Vargas 12, Tallan Askew 9, Keelan Green 8, Derek Dickson 6, Jon Gammill 4, Jay Pope 3.

McKinney North freshmen 51, Sulphur Springs 23

Chad Fries scored a game-high 18 points, and Brian McGee added 11 for the Bulldogs, who led 26-12 at the half and increased their lead to 36-15 after three quarters.

McKinney North 10 16 10 15 --51

Sulphur Springs 7 5 3 8 --23

McKinney North -- Chad Fries 18, Brian McGee 11, Martin Holmes 4, Taylor Joseph 4, Kyle Dykhozin 3, Chris Hayes 3, Nic Coats 2, Zach Curtis 2, George Rutledge 2, Nick Fisher 1, Jeff Olson 1.

Sulphur Springs -- Aaron Williams 5, Ryan Gibson 4, Bradley Washington 4, Ricky Willis 4, Cameron Cash 3, LaDarius Harrison 3.

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