McKinney North takes advantage of Cats' short bench
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 17, 2004 - McKINNEY - When Sulphur Springs basketball coach Steve Glover wants to sub in a player, there's no question who he will turn to. It'll be the only other guy on the bench.

With just six players on varsity until the SSHS football season is over, the short-handed Wildcats battled McKinney North pretty evenly for 18 minutes, but the Bulldogs took advantage of the Wildcats' eventual fatigue to run off to a 73-45 victory in the season opener Tuesday.

The Wildcats trailed just 33-30 at halftime, and were still just three down with six minutes to play in the third quarter before McKinney North went on a 20-3 run to close out the period and build a 20-point lead.

"We told the guys in order to win we'd literally have to put in the effort of six against 15 because I think they had 15 players on their roster," Glover said. "We'd have to crawl off the floor at the end of the game - we'd have to give that much effort. And they did.

"We never stopped playing hard. We played hard from the tip to the buzzer, but we just wore down."

The Wildcats were led by senior guard Ryan Allison, who had a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds and four steals, and senior forward John Gammill with 12 points, three boards and two assists.

But, after scoring 30 points in the first half, the Cats managed just 15 points in the final two periods.

McKinney North had four players in double-figure scoring as 12 players saw action. Weldon Thompkins and Barrington Griffin both came off the bench to score 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Eric Herbel and Kenny McGowen added 10 points each. Thompkins had a team-high eight rebounds and McGowen recorded a game-best six assists.

McKinney North got off to a 7-0 lead before the Wildcats scored on a Gammill fast break bucket. The Cats eventually tied the game at 13-13 on an Allison 3-pointer with two minutes to play, and Gammill's 30-foot banked trey at the first quarter buzzer drew SSHS to within one point, 19-18.

Sulphur Springs opened the second period on a 6-0 run to take a 24-19 lead on an Allison lay-up, a pair of free throws by Gammill and a Derek Dickson fast break bucket started by a blocked shot by 6-8 junior Stephen Kramer.

Dickson finished the game with a game-high four steals to go with seven rebounds and three points. Kramer added three blocks and five boards.

But, McKinney North ended the half ahead, 33-30 despite a putback by Allison and a floating jumper in the lane from junior point guard Jay Pope. Pope, though, picked up his fourth foul late in the half.

The third quarter turned ugly for the Cats, who went 2-of-16 from the floor as McKinney North constantly pushed the ball upcourt, wearing down the six-player rotation.

They were able to beat us down court because they were fresher and score four, five or six easy fast breaks in a four or five minute stretch.

"I think we're in really good shape for a group of six, but you also have mental shape and they got no breaks. There's always a good time to get out, get a drink and think about what to do when you go back in, and a lot of these guys didn't get that break," Glover said.

"I think it was a combination of fatigue, mentally and physically. They were going hard, but we just weren't moving very fast. They gave a good effort."

His point was emphasized with about four minutes remaining in the game when Pope dove for a ball to knock it away from the McKinney North point guard, ran into the back court and dove again to try to recover it.

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