The varsity boys' basketball team looked to bounce back from Tuesday, Dec. 11's loss at home against Round Rock as they traveled to face another district foe, the McNeil Mavericks. Facing a hostile environment away from home, the Warriors looked to head home with a win on Friday, Dec. 14, but ended up dropping this game against their district rivals, losing by a score of 48-37.
Corey Levinson '19 led the Warriors in scoring, notching 13 points while shooting five-for-seven from the court, as well as being three-for-five on three-pointers. Patrick Sladek '19 also added 11 points.
"[The problem tonight] was all communication. I mean, once [McNeil] hit one shot, we kinda got down on ourselves, and that one shot turned into three, and then turned into four," Levinson said.
The first quarter of play was a defensive battle. From the opening tip-off, both teams played with lots of aggressiveness and intensity on defense. The Warriors didn't allow a Maverick bucket until about five minutes into the contest, but the Warriors couldn't score many points of their own to increase their early lead. Both teams combined to score only 11 points in an extremely close first quarter, as the Warriors led 7-4 after the first eight minutes of action.
However, in the second quarter of action, McNeil came out scoring in bunches. The Mavericks started the second quarter strong, scoring six straight points to claim the lead, prompting Coach Brad Hastings to call a timeout to try and get his players to regroup, as the score was 10-7 in favor of the Mavericks. Following the timeout, the Warriors were able to score four straight points, as a Luke Durham '19 floater at the free throw line gave the Warriors the lead once again, making the score 11-10, with the Warriors reclaiming the advantage.
Things went south after the Durham basket, though – McNeil suddenly went on an 8-0 run to end the half, with a buzzer beater capping off a dreadful quarter for the Warriors. Thanks to being confronted by some stifling defense and not being able to put up points for the remainder of the quarter, the Warriors found themselves down after having the lead for most of the half. McNeil outscored the visitors 14-4 in the second quarter, as the Mavericks took an 18-11 lead into halftime, leaving the Warriors to try and regroup.
"[McNeil's full court press] slowed us down a ton. We were trying to get things going, trying to get some quick looks, but their press slowed us down, so we couldn't get the looks we wanted to get. But, kudos to them, they had a great game plan, and they just had us on our heels," Levinson said.
Thankfully for the visiting fans, the Warriors came into the second half ready to play. Levinson scored the first five points of the quarter, and the Warriors took the lead thanks to an 8-0 blitz to begin the quarter before a quick 10-0 run by the Mavericks to counter the Warriors' hot start. All of a sudden, the Warriors found their efforts to begin the half completely wiped out, as the Mavericks took the lead once more. A Dylan Granger '19 three-pointer ended the home team's run, but back-to-back McNeil three-pointers, including a buzzer beater to end the third quarter, pushed the Mavericks' lead to double digits. The Warriors were staring at a 12 point deficit as the third quarter ended, with the score being 34-22 in McNeil's favor.
"The momentum kept going [McNeil's] way, their home crowd was really loud tonight, and we just couldn't do anything to slow down their momentum. If we tried to communicate more, we could've come out with the win," Levinson said.
As valuable time ticked away, the two district foes traded buckets to start the fourth quarter of action. The Warriors needed answers quickly, still being down 12 points as the score was 40-28, with the Mavericks holding the advantage. Back-to-back three-pointers from Sladek and Levinson cut the lead to single digits with 3:30 left to go in the game. However, the Warriors began to lose their groove on offense, allowing the Mavericks to pull away as time was expiring, as the visitors were only able to score three more points in the match. As the final horn sounded, the Warriors were left bitterly disappointed, as they were defeated by a score of 48-37.
"[McNeil] hit some clutch shots that were sort of daggers in our hearts later in the game to build their lead, but I'm proud of our guys for fighting back at the end," Levinson said.
The Warriors will take next week off before competing in the Leander ISD Holiday Classic on Friday, Dec. 28.