Wildcats remain undefeated at Hoop Magic Tournament
By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer
Dec. 1, 2007 - QUINLAN - In the first three games of the Quinlan Ford Hoop Magic Tournament, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats are undefeated and are averaging 59 points per game.
As a result, SSHS (7-0) will be playing for the tournament title against District 11-4A rival North Lamar Panthers at 4:30 p.m. today.
"It does feel good to still be undefeated and I hope we come out and play hard against North Lamar," said first-year coach Braughn Curtis. "We have got to stop No. 21 (Justin Collard) and No. 13 (Qualon Fort) because they are their two best players. They play hard and come ready to play every time. We are going to have our work cut out for us, and this will give us an early look at how district is going to be against them."
The Wildcats defeated Little Elm, 59-53, in the opening game on Friday and then returned for a 59-45 win against Kaufman. The Wildcats opened the tournament with a 59-58 win over Rockwall Heath on Thursday.
Following the tournament, the Wildcats will return home for a contest against Commerce on Tuesday night. The varsity is scheduled to tipoff at 7:30 p.m.
SSHS 59, Kaufman 45
Against Kaufman, the Wildcats jumped out to a 26-5 lead after the first quarter as the defense held Kaufman to 2-of-14 shooting from the field and forced seven turnovers.
"Our guys really played hard in the first quarter and then after that it was trying to get them to understand that we are playing the game of basketball against the game, not against the scoreboard," the coach said. "We still need to work on transition defense, and offensively we moved well in the game."
Junior Jonathan Lee and sophomore Kedrick Dial scored 14 points while pulling down seven rebounds each for the Wildcats. Dequalin "Boo" Evans added nine points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal.
The Wildcats shot 24-of-62 (38.7 percent) from the field, compared to 15-of-54 (27.8 percent) for the Lions as Kaufman shot 1-of-11 from behind the arc.
SSHS jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes on two free throws and a bucket by Colton Nash, along with a 3-pointer from Tyrick Rollison, who finished with six points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
With time winding down in the first half, Lee had an offensive putback on a missed shot by Joseph McCann at the buzzer for a 38-17 halftime lead.
In the second half, Kaufman outscored SSHS 28-21 and cut the deficit to 10 points at 49-39 with three minutes remaining as R.J. Turner had three free throws. The Wildcats defense then clamped down and outscored the Lions 10-6 the remainder of the contest.
"They got in a zone against us during that stretch and that was the first time anyone has done that against us this year," Curtis said. "We have got to work on that more this year and make sure we don't slack off in the game.
"We are starting to get the concept of transition defense and that is helping us out with playing hard and getting steals throughout the game."
SSHS 59, Little Elm 53
In their first game of the day, the Wildcats held an 11-4 lead early in the game on a layup by Anthony Mills, but could not hold the lead as the trailed 15-13 heading into the second quarter.
Rollison led the way for the Wildcats with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Nash had nine points, five rebounds, three steals and one assist.
The Lobos held their biggest lead of the first half at five points on two separate occasions, at 30-25 on a steal by Thomas Stokes with over two minutes remaining and then Sulphur Springs' Andrew Panter nailed two free throws at the buzzer as Little Elm took a 34-29 lead into the intermission.
In the third quarter, neither team held more than a three-point lead as the Wildcats scored the first seven points of the quarter for a 36-34 advantage.
Rollison scored seven points in the quarter, including five points during that run. He also tied the game at 44-44 heading into the final quarter on a bucket off an assist from Lee.
SSHS found a way to get its biggest lead since the first quarter at 57-47 as Panter drained two free throws with 35 seconds remaining in the game to put it out of reach. Panter also scored the final two points of the game on free throws as he finished with eight points.