|SSHS offense stuck in neutral against Pine Tree|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Dec. 29, 2006 - MOUNT PLEASANT - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats opened up the first round of the Sixth Annual Tiger Classic with a rude awakening against the Pine Tree Pirates.
Pine Tree outscored SSHS in every quarter and sent Sulphur Springs to the consolation bracket with a 51-34 win Thursday afternoon.
"I told the guys afterward that every single team went on Christmas break and we took six days off and at least everybody else took five days off," said SSHS coach Rusty Harden. "We just did not come out here ready to play today."
Wildcats senior Bradley Washington led the team in scoring with 11 points to go along with four rebounds, one steal, three assists and one block. It was his seventh game as the leading scorer for the Wildcats this season.
In the first three quarters, the Wildcats' offense could not get anything going and was held under 10 points in each quarter as they trailed 32-18 heading into the fourth period. They were 8-of-28 from the field during the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter alone, Sulphur Springs found its offense and scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field.
"I think they played a little looser at that point in the game, and when you are behind you've got nothing to lose and can gamble a little bit," Harden said. "I think when teams get ahead they start slowing the ball down, and it could have been a combination of both of those things."
The Pirates opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter (14-6) as Cordarion Smith scored on a back-door lay-up on a pass from Dominick Walker with just over a minute remaining in the quarter.
Smith scored a game-high 21 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists, while Walker scored 11 points and had seven rebounds, one assist and three blocks.
Harden said the team was not helping out on defense and that is what caused the Wildcats to get behind early on in the game.
"It's just us standing out there not playing defense," the coach said. "That was us standing out there flat-footed and the guy is breaking for a lay-up and our players saying, 'Oops, that was my man,' and us being lazy."
In the second quarter, Sulphur Springs was outscored 7-3 as Ladarius Harrison nailed a free throw and nearly six minutes later Colten Nash had an offensive putback as Pine Tree held a 19-11 lead. Nash finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
SSHS shot 3-of-13 from the free throw line for 23.1 percent, while Pine Tree was 10-of-13 (76.9 percent). Pine Tree shot 20-of-45 (44.4 percent), compared to 14-of-40 (35 percent) from the field.
The Wildcats (11-4) were scheduled to face the winner of the Mount Vernon-Rivercrest matchup at 2:30 p.m. today in the consolation round. With a win, SSHS will play in the consolation final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.