Wildcats give Tigers a battle before falling

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Jan. 30, 2008 - MOUNT PLEASANT - Going into their final five games of the District 12-4A season, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats looked like a different team against the Mount Pleasant Tigers Tuesday night.

In their first matchup against the Tigers, Mount Pleasant left Wildcat Gym with a 35-point victory. This time, the Tigers held on for a 67-59 victory to keep SSHS winless in district.

"We didn't play that well in the first half," said SSHS first-year coach Braughn Curtis. "Toward the end of the game, we made good decisions and we were not throwing the ball away as much in the third and fourth quarters. In the first two quarters, we were throwing the ball away almost every single possession."

The Wildcats had 22 first-half turnovers and 32 for the game against a tenacious Mount Pleasant defense as Sulphur Springs trailed 35-16 at intermission. SSHS outscored MP 43-32 in the second half as junior Jonathan Lee scored all of his team-high 15 points in final two periods.

SSHS (14-15, 0-6 in district) had three other players in double figures as Bryant "Day Day" Jackson had a solid game with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, Kedrick Dial had a double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and one assist off of the bench, and Anthony Mills added 11 points, two assists and one rebound.

The story once again for Mount Pleasant (16-10, 4-2) was the play of senior guard Trentson Hill, who scored a game-high 29 points to go along with five rebounds and one steal, after a 34-point outing in the team's first meeting back on Jan. 11.

Hill put an exclamation point on Tuesday night's game following a turnover by SSHS with a slam dunk as time expired. The Wildcats defensive pressure from Mills and Jackson held Hill to only three 3-pointers in this game compared to the seven he hit at Wildcat Gym.

SSHS battled back from a 53-34 deficit heading into the fourth quarter and cut the lead to four at 59-55 on a old-fashioned 3-point play as Dial received a pass from Mills and was fouled with 1:42 remaining in the game.

After a bucket by MP extended the lead to six, Curtis said the Wildcats knew what needed to happen to have a chance to pull out the win.

"At one point, we had the game down to six points, and we knew we had to play good defense," the coach said. "We went for a charge and didn't get the charge, so they go to the free throw line, and we knew who to foul and we just didn't score on the last four possessions."

Earlier in the game, the Wildcats held a 6-4 lead on three straight buckets by Jackson, and then MP went on a 10-0 run on a steal by Coco Brannon, a jumper by Kendrick Walker, 3-of-4 free throws by Jason Armstead and a 3-pointer by Hill with 2:08 remaining.

In the second quarter, SSHS went 2-of-13 from the field and was held scoreless for the first 6:46 of the quarter before Colton Nash nailed 1-of-2 free throws for a 31-11 deficit. The Wildcats committed 14 turnovers in the second quarter.

"I wasn't nervous, but I was frustrated about the second quarter," Curtis said in regards to the tough shooting numbers. "At halftime, I told them to just go out there and fight because they are challenging your manhood, and they came out and did something about it."

Mount Pleasant finished the game shooting 25-of-51 from the field (49 percent), while SSHS hit 26-of-58 (45 percent). The Wildcats held a 46-27 advantage in rebounding and a 16-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

The Tigers went to the line 34 times compared to only eight for the Wildcats as MP made 14-of-34 (41 percent), compared to 6-of-8 (75 percent for the Wildcats.

SSHS returns home on Friday against the Lindale Eagles and will be looking for their first district win of the season. Lindale defeated SSHS, 45-41, in Lindale during the first round of play.

"We need to make sure not to turn the ball over," the coach said. "We started the game in a 15-0 hole at their place the first time and were up by one going into the fourth quarter and lost by four. It was all because we turned the ball over a lot in the game. If we don't turn the ball over and we play good basketball, we will be fine in that game."

In the junior varsity game, the Wildcats lost 58-43 as Patric Miller had 16 points. Meanwhile, the SSHS freshmen lost their game to the Tigers as Kaylan Alexander led the team with 15 points.

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