Wildcats lose ground in second quarter

By JOSEPH ELERSON,News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 2, 2008 - For the second time this season, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats could not figure out the Lindale Eagles in a 51-37 loss Friday night at Wildcat Gym.

The Wildcats (14-16, 0-7 in District 11-4A) played Lindale almost identical in three of four quarters, but were outscored 17-5 in the second quarter and trailed 32-19 heading into the locker room.

"A lot of that had to do with us trying to create things off of one dribble and not being able to pick up when a guy is on our hip," said SSHS head coach Braughn Curtis. "We are not understanding how to get open versus the zone, and we know what set to run but our lack of experience that we have at this level is what is hurting us right now. We don't know how to move the basketball to create an opening that we can exploit."

Two of Wildcats' final three games will be on the road as they travel to district-leading Paris on Tuesday and then Texas High on Friday. Curtis said Tuesday's game against Paris needs to be perfect execution by the Wildcats in hopes of picking up their first district win.

"You have to play hard defensively and we can not give them anything easy inside," the coach said. "(Courtney) Jackson will have a great game if you let him catch the ball inside, and we have to double him and have him shoot the ball over us or give the ball up. Offensively, we will have to have good shot selection because if we do what we did in this game, we will get beat by 50 points to Paris. You cannot go out there and jack up whatever shot you feel you should shoot."

Against Lindale, the Wildcats came out strong in the first quarter and trailed 15-14 heading into the second period with only two turnovers. SSHS was behind 19-7 in their first meeting of the season and was down 15-0 at one point during that game.

"It felt good in the first quarter because I was saying to myself, 'We are in the game and we are playing good basketball,' and then the second quarter happens," the coach said. "For the most part, the majority of my guys are playing hard right now, and until we get everybody playing hard, we are going to be struggling."

Lindale (17-11, 4-3) jumped out to a 6-0 lead as Imran Chotani - who scored a game-high 22 points - nailed a 3-pointer, followed by a free throw from Zach Evans and a jumper by Spencer Terry with 5:50 remaining in the quarter.

The Wildcats then went on a 10-3 run as Jonathan Lee and Bryant "Day Day" Jackson combined for all 10 points for their first lead of the game. Jackson had a team-high 13 points to go along with two rebounds, three steals and one assist, while Lee added 12 points, three rebounds and two steals.

"I am looking forward to being with those guys (Jackson and Lee) for another year," the coach said. "They are doing a good job right now and playing hard and doing the things that I am asking them to do."

In the second quarter, Chotani and Terry took control of the game for Lindale scoring 16 of the team's 17 points in the quarter. After a 3-pointer by Jackson off an assist from Kedrick Dial made the score 23-19, the Eagles scored the final nine points of the quarter to take the double-digit lead into halftime.

SSHS committed 10 turnovers in the first half with eight of them coming in the second quarter. Curtis said turnovers once again played a factor. SSHS finished with 14 turnovers in the contest.

"Turnovers have been the story of our life," he said. "I wish there was something that I could do to have us stop that. They are doing a better job of understanding press breaker and making better decisions full court. We are not very good at adjusting to the softness or aggressiveness of the opposing defense right now."

The Wildcats cut the deficit to 10 points at 41-31 with 3:20 remaining in the game on an offensive putback by Lee. The Eagles then sealed the win on a jumper by Evans, two free throws from Chotani and a free throw by Travis Rhea with 47 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats shot 15-of-46 from the field (33 percent), compared to 16-of-30 (53 percent) for the Eagles. Lindale went to the line 24 times (15-of-24) compared to only four (4-for-4) for the Wildcats and had a 29-17 advantage in rebounding.

In the junior varsity game, the Wildcats lost by a score of 48-41 as Jacob Corona led the team with 15 points, while Jesse Vasquez added 14 points. The freshmen, meanwhile, won 44-39 over the Eagles as Alvin Frazier scored 16 points, and K.C. Macon added 10 points. The freshmen led 20-17 at the half and 28-25 after three quarters.

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