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Trojans storm past Texans with solid second half, 60-50

December 16, 2018

SOUTH HOUSTON - Three days after handing Atascocita High School its first defeat on its home floor in six years, South Houston wondered what could it do for an encore?

Anything it did would pale in comparison to that achievement, but a 3-0 start out of the District 22-6A gates would work and it did Friday night.

After a bumpy first half, South Houston outscored Sam Rayburn 38-17 over the final 16 minutes, opening the door to a 60-50 triumph in the Trojans Gym.

Trailing 33-22 entering the second half, the Trojans outscored the Texans 19-8 in the third period and 19-9 in the fourth to move head coach Mark Crutchfield’s club within one game of taking a perfect 4-0 record into the Christmas break before resuming district in January.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to play D. If we don’t play D and keep people in front of us, we’re not going to win games. So our success this year is our defense. We came out lazy, we came out lackadaisical. We came out like there was no sense of urgency. At halftime, I made sure that they understood that if they didn’t play defense, it would be next man up,” Crutchfield said.

The primary focus in the team’s man-to-man defense was to always know where Super Sophomore Keon Edwards was at all times.

In the second period, that lackadaisical defense may have permitted Edwards to go on a scoring rampage, netting 10 of his team-high 16 points.

“We wanted to deny him and have help-side defense on the other players. We have to keep people out of the paint and move our feet. Our main scheme is playing hard man-to-man defense,” Crutchfield said.

The Trojans won despite not having Torrence Stevens at their disposal, who was attending a family member’s college graduation.

So the trio of Chayse Jones, Ian Butler and Keith Oliver filled in the vacuum very nicely, accounting for 45 of the team’s 60 points.

Jones led the way with 25 points, but were it not for his 11 points in the second period, South Houston’s halftime predicament may have been far more dire.

One of the Trojans who got Crutchfield’s message about playing stronger defense was Micah Jernigan. In the opening two minutes of the third period, Jernigan came up with two nice plays.

First, as a Rayburn ballhandler was running past him, he alertly tapped the ball away, leading to a turnover and a Jones bucket. Two possessions later, Jernigan intercepted a Texans pass that led to a Jones lay-up and a deficit that had shrunk to 35-32.

Then with 1:45 remaining in the third, South Houston had come all the way back from its 11-point intermission deficit. It was due to some crisp foul shooting by four different Trojans.

Butler, Oliver, Ethan Ponce and Taylor Rambo connected on 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, drawing even at 39-all.

The deadly free-throw shooting gave the Trojans their first lead at 43-41 as Butler sank two more, before a Butler lay-up made it a four-point game.

Jernigan’s rebounding work under the defensive glass set the table for Jones’ first score of the fourth period, an eight-minute session that saw Jones finish his fine night with eight points.

South Houston bridged the third and fourth periods with a 9-0 run, leaving Rayburn stunned.

Twice, Crutchfield’s new and improved defense blocked Edwards shots. Both times, it led to points at the other end.

The slow start may have had something to do with the team still on Cloud 9 and their huge road win at Atascocita.

“That was the hard thing, getting them motivated. I think they came out a little lazy, thinking things were going to go their way from the start. I’m very happy that they dug in and got the defensive stops,” Crutchfield said.

For Sam Rayburn and head coach Ryan Campbell, they’ve got to figure out what’s wrong with their second-half play and figure it out in a hurry as the Texans drop to 0-2 for 22-6A assignments.

Against Atascocita, the guys only trailed by six at halftime, before the Eagles outscored Rayburn 50-22 in the second half. Now comes the second half at South Houston where Rayburn got outscored 38-17.

Put the two together and the Texans, in their opening two district games, have been outscored 88-39. Vype Magazine picked Rayburn as a Preseason Top-20 team. Top-20 teams don’t get outscored 88-39 and expect to earn a playoff berth.

Deunte Walls led the Texans with 17 points, but only three in the second half. He was definitely on fire in the first period when he knocked down four 3s.

ravery@hcnonline.com

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