Boys’ basketball: Clear Brook slips past Friendswood, 43-40

November 14, 2018

There were plenty of reasons Cliff Owens could have offered for his Friendswood basketball team’s 43-40 season-opening loss to Clear Brook Tuesday night, but none would have more clearly defined the Mustangs’ setback than a 17-of-32 performance from the free throw line.

“That’s not going to get it done at any level,” the Mustang head coach said. “We had a chance to break their run, but every time we went to the line we were 1 of 2, or 2 of 3, or 0 of 2. You have to make them pay, and we didn’t.”

Friendswood had an opportunity to force overtime, but Jared Dawson’s off-balance shot from the corner as time expired bounced off the rim at the Mustang gym.

Clear Brook, which trailed 17-11 at halftime, used a 9-0 run to start the second half for a 20-17 lead before Friendswood answered with its own 9-0 flurry for a 26-20 cushion with 2:34 left in the quarter.

The Wolverines, however, turned the game in their favor once again, this time with an 11-1 spree that gave Brook the upper hand for good.

The Wolverines tied the game at 26 by the end of the third quarter and then used a 5-1 spurt to start the final period for a 31-27 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“We talked at halftime about increasing our defensive intensity,” first-year Wolverine head coach Nathan Janak said. “We needed to speed the game up. We came out pretty flat in the first half, and we were not knocking down open shots.

“We went back to what we do well, which is pressure defense and forcing turnovers. We did that right out of the gate in the third quarter, and it kind of jump-started for the rest of the game.”

Friendswood was in control most of the first half, jumping to a 5-0 lead with guard Ian Bivins accounting for four of those points.

The Mustangs led 13-5 after one quarter, and eventually stretched the bulge to 15-5 on two free throws by Cole Kelly with 7:06 left in the second period.

However, the Mustangs would score just two points in the next nine minutes as Brook went on a 15-2 run to turn the 10-point deficit into a 20-17 advantage.

The Wolverines would open as much as a six-point lead at 39-33 with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter, and Friendswood missed five free throws in the final period to thwart its comeback bid.

“I thought we were really good, defensively,” Owens said. “It’s just tough to continue to be good, defensively, when you’re not seeing the ball go in on the other end.

“We’ve got some guys that can score, and they should have some shots left in their arsenal because we didn’t waste any tonight. All the credit to Clear Brook, they played tough defense, and we didn’t respond to their pressure.”

Janak said the Wolverines will try to build on the victory.

“Our kids are tough, and it’s fun to watch them compete,” he said. “We have a lot of stuff to work on with defensive rebounding being at the top of the list.”

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