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Boys’ basketball: Fast start, late surge lift Friendswood past Clear Springs

November 28, 2018

With his team leading 17-3 at the two-minute mark of the first quarter, Friendswood head basketball coach Cliff Owens was as stone-faced with a 14-point lead as he was at the opening tip.

An 0-3 start to the season can quickly put matters in perspective.

And although the Chargers battled back to tie the game at 42, the Mustangs never relinquished the lead and surged late for 61-54 victory on the Chargers’ court.

“Until you get that first one, it kind of feels like you’re not going to get one,” Owens said of the triumph. “It makes it easier to teach U.S. history tomorrow.

“I thought the guys were pretty gritty. It makes a big difference when you shoot the ball well. We got some good looks, and the rim starts to look really, really big, I’m told, when the shots fall. I was never a shooter, but the guys were knocking them down, and that’s always a good feeling.”

A 3-pointer at the outset of the fourth quarter by Clear Springs’ Seth Staats tied the game (42-42) for the only time.

Friendswood then scored five straight points on a 3-pointer from Thomas Hamre - who recorded a game-high 18 points - and a basket by Gracen McGregor for a 47-42 cushion with 6:21 left.

The Chargers kept battling back and cut the lead to 52-50 on two free throws from Garrett Rooker with 3:50 showing, but that’s when Friendswood put together an 8-1 run to seal the win.

Mustang Renyck Robertson buried a 3-pointer for a 55-50 score at the 3:17 mark before Springs’ Terrence Woodson made a free throw to bring the Chargers within 55-51.

Friendswood reeled off the next five points on a free throw by Hamre, an offensive rebound and basket from Ian Bivins, and two free throws by Ben McAndrews for a 60-51 score with 47 seconds left.

Although Friendswood missed three free throws in the final 37 seconds, it still comfortably hung on for the victory.

Clear Springs (1-4) was persistent in its comeback, but couldn’t find the necessary firepower down the stretch to finish the job.

“We have a lot of guys that have had a whole two days of practice,” Charger head coach Chris Hairfield said. “We have a bunch of guys changing roles because of the guys coming in from football.

“We’re trying to settle in and determine our identity. With only two days of practice with this group, it’s kind of hard.

“We won the last three quarters tonight, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the first part. It’s just going to take a while, and the guys know we didn’t do tonight what we can.”

Friendswood’s game-opening flurry was highlighted by a 12-0 run which included 3-pointers from Cole Kelly and Hamre.

The Mustangs led 17-5 after one period and maintained that 12-point margin (36-24) at halftime. A 3-pointer, a steal and a layup by Austin Petrovics accounted for a 5-0 run to end the half to give Friendswood the double-digit lead.

Springs, though, chipped away with strong inside play from Woodson and the long-range shooting from Staats to close to 42-39 entering the fourth quarter.

“Coach Hairfield does a good job pounding it inside to his big guys,” Owens said. “That tandem high post-low post offense is tough to defend.

“It seemed like they got every look they wanted. Our guys just never stopped working, and it’s nice to see that rewarded in the end.”

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