Wildcats pull away from L-E in fourth quarter

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Dec. 19, 2007 - TEXARKANA - For the 13th time in 17 games, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats came out on the winning side of the scoreboard with a 46-38 win over the Liberty-Eylau Leopards Tuesday night at the Rader Dome.

"I thought we played better basketball," said SSHS first-year coach Braughn Curtis. "We turned it over 18 or 19 times, which is not good, and we need to get that around 10 to 15 turnovers. We need to stop giving people so many chances to score on us.

"I thought we played better with being patient in looking for an open shot and pressing well. We got a lot of deflections and steals when we needed to have them, and this was a good win to come down here in this environment."

The Wildcats (13-4) head into the Christmas break on a two-game winning streak and will play in the Fouke, Ark. tournament Dec. 27-29 since the Mount Pleasant Holiday Tournament was canceled this year.

"We are playing three teams during the tournament against Bastrop, La., Magnolia, Ark., and Idabel, Okla.," the coach said. "These are three very good teams. We told the director to give us the best and we are expecting the best."

Against Liberty-Eylau, Sulphur Springs shot 19-of-37 for 51 percent from the field, compared to 15-of-45 for 33 percent for Liberty-Eylau. The Wildcats blocked five L-E shots in the game and forced L-E to shoot 2-of-11 from 3-point range. SSHS shot 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 17-of-33 from 2-point range.

Wildcat juniors Tyrick Rollison and Colton Nash led the way with 12 points each as Rollison had six rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks. Nash had four rebounds, two steals, one assist and two blocks.

Liberty-Eylau jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a fast-break layup by Charles Jones, a jumper by Jermaine Waller and a jumper by Marquez Clark, who finished with a team-high 11 points, one rebound and four steals.

SSHS then went on a 12-4 run to close out the quarter as Rollison had two buckets, Lee had a jumper and a layup, Mills drained a jumper and Nash had a jumper in the final four minutes of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Bryant "Day Day" Jackson scored on the old-fashioned 3-point play as he drained a jumper and was fouled to give Sulphur Springs a 17-12 lead with 4:35 remaining. The Wildcats then gained their biggest lead of the first half as Dequalin "Boo" Evans drained a 3-pointer from the top of the arc for a 20-13 lead.

Sulphur Springs opened up the second half stalling the ball as Nash had an offensive putback for a 25-17 lead with 4:50 remaining in the quarter.

The Leopards then went on a 12-2 run to take a 29-27 lead as Clark drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Praise Greene for their first lead of the second half.

Curtis said the Wildcats did not adjust to the Leopards' defense at the start of the second half.

"They are not used to understanding that we want people to do what we want them to do," he said. "We got the lead and they have to come out and do what we need them to do. If they are in a 2-3 zone and we got the lead then we need to win the game and make them come out and play what we need them to play. We just didn't do a good job of being patient and come out to us during that stretch."

The Leopards had their final lead of the game with 3:08 remaining in the game as Clark had a steal and layup for a 37-36 lead. The Wildcats then went to their full-court press and outscored L-E, 10-1, the remainder of the game to take the win.

"Our press controlled the tempo of the game and they didn't have an answer for it," Curtis said. "They didn't have many fast-break buckets except for two-or-three. We are doing well with it and playing better right now."

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