Wildcats fall in championship game
By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer
Dec. 3, 2007 - QUINLAN - After rolling through their first seven games of the season undefeated, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats ran into a familiar foe in the North Lamar Panthers Saturday afternoon.
In the end, North Lamar took the tournament title of the Quinlan Ford Hoop Magic Tournament with a 49-38 win over the Wildcats as they dropped to 7-1 on the season.
"From my point of view, it's not understanding the procedures of a championship team," said first-year coach Braughn Curtis. "I have some procedures in place for us to be mentally ready and prepared for the game and we are not taking the meetings seriously right now.
"I thought we struggled with playing hard and getting after it. When we got in our 100-press, we were not on a hip and I coached them on the techniques and that is something we have got to get better at during practice."
Kedrick Dial led the Wildcats in scoring with eight points to go along with six rebounds and two steals, while Dequalin "Boo" Evans had seven points, two rebounds and one steal.
For North Lamar, Qualon Fort had a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four assists and two steals, while Justin Collard had 15 points, four rebounds, six steals and five assists.
North Lamar held its biggest lead of the first half at 18-11 on a bucket by Fort from Collard with 7:15 remaining in the second quarter until Sulphur Springs put together a 9-0 run to take a 20-18 lead with over two minutes left.
During the run, the Wildcats had free throws from Colton Nash and two technical free throws from Jonathan Lee. They also had buckets from Lee, Rashad Hall and Tyrick Rollison.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats shot 3-of-9 from the field as they trailed 33-26 heading into the final quarter.
North Lamar had a fast-break layup from Jonathan Hawkins off an assist from Fort for the 33-26 lead, and Curtis said the team was not responding well on the defensive end.
"The transition defense is definitely going to be an issue for us," the coach said. "We have got to understand that you can't play all five guys in the back court and leave the basket uncontested. We are still learning the fundamentals right now."
Curtis said seeing North Lamar this early in the season helps the Wildcats prepare for the district schedule when they face them again on Jan. 25 and Feb. 12.
"They came here and played hard. They don't care about what the record is or who you are and they are going to come out here and play hard," he said. "Tonight, we did not take care of our end of the bargain. North Lamar came ready to play and they played well. They did the things they needed to do to win."
Sulphur Springs was able to cut the deficit in the fourth quarter to six at 40-34 with three minutes remaining on a 3-pointer from Evans, but could not get any closer as they were outscored 9-4 the remainder of the contest.
The Wildcats committed 23 turnovers in the game and Curtis said that is a major problem this early in the season.
"With us having 23 turnovers is outlandish in a game," he said. "A lot of those could have been nerves, not understanding how to make a good pass or being nonchalant. We need to be confident with the basketball and it will come for us."
Rollison and Nash were named to the All-Tournament team for their consistent play during the four games of the tournament.
The Wildcats return to Wildcat Gym tomorrow night against the Commerce Tigers at 7:30 p.m. The junior varsity is scheduled to play in the main gym at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity girls at 6 p.m. The freshman boys will not play as Commerce does not have enough players due to grades.
"Commerce is struggling with their fundamentals right now and we need to get after it," Curtis said. "I think this is a game that we should compete and play well in."