Whenever Guyer and Denton get together, the atmosphere in the gymnasium is especially palpable, and if Wildcats’ head coach Grant Long has it his way, he hopes his team will play more games this year with as much pressure and tension after earning a 63-52 victory Friday.
“[Denton] Coach [Harold] Jackson does a great job and always gets them ready to play, so we know it’s going to be a battle,” Long said. “I hope we get to continue to battle each other and play each other all the time because there are certain games and certain teams that can give you that playoff atmosphere and that’s what we want as many times as possible to get us ready for the future.”
On Friday, the lead went back and forth like a metronome, but an 8-2 run by the Broncos to start the fourth gave rise to each team’s blood pressure and tied the game at 45 with 5:15 left.
Deamonte Hughes’ steal and finish in transition gave the Broncos a 49-47 lead, but the Wildcats flexed their muscles and finished the game on a 15-3 run that included Sean Choate’s back-to-back transition buckets to give Guyer the lead for good at 53-49.
From there, the Broncos (2-6, 1-1 District 5-4A) were forced to gamble and press, but Guyer’s poise at the free-throw line proved to be a major difference in the game.
“Sean in transition, getting the ball up in transition was big,” Grant said. “They did a good job pressuring us and when we got inside, they were doubling down hard. We had a couple of guys out tonight that are big guys that could give our other bigs some rest.”
Choate’s slick shooting display was good for a game-high 20 points, with Gordon Hill adding 13 points as the Wildcats moved to 7-4 on the season and 2-0 in district play.
Although Grant was disappointed in his team’s defense, its determination and calm demeanor were the driving factor.
“The defensive execution was what I was most disappointed in, but the thing I’m proud of is our guys always find a way to win,” Grant said. “That does take heart and effort. It’s never going to be about talent with these guys. They’re a talented group. It’s just about focus and preparation, and this is a good game to see that we have to focus and prepare no matter what.”
Guyer 45, Denton 38
The Lady Wildcats used their size and length to dominate the defensive boards to the tune of a 14-4 first-quarter edge, but the Lady Broncos showed resolve by responding with a 13-5 second quarter despite allowing the first five points of the quarter.
Guyer (10-2, 3-1 District 5-4A) restored its lead to double digits after the third quarter with its offensive advantage inside and Denton unable to connect on its perimeter shots, which led to run-outs for the Wildcats, something Guyer head coach Harold Colson was happy about, but only in two out of the four quarters.
“It was definitely the first and third quarters,” Colson said. “That’s kind of the way it’s been all year with us, going up and down. It seems like when we are out pressing and getting in that transition game, we are a little bit better team than we are in the half court. Saying that, you still have to execute in the half court if you’re going to hang with most teams most nights, especially when shots aren’t falling.”
Quamese Moss’s 13 points for the Lady Wildcats were a game-high, with Ola Akinniyi adding 10 points. Denton was led by Jada Caitlin’s nine points.
The Lady Broncos (7-7, 1-3) wouldn’t go quietly, though, charging back in the fourth quarter on the strength of their defense to close to two points at 38-36 with 3:13 to play. But Guyer closed out the game at the free-throw line during a 7-2 finishing run.
“It says a lot about the girls that they hung in and fought,” Colson said. “Me being a coach and always wanting more, I want them to do that all the time and not have those lulls like they did. It’s a credit to them hanging in there, scratching and clawing.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Guyer 63, Denton 52
Denton (2-6, 1-1 District 5-4A) — Adarian Harris 15, Deamonte Hughes 13, Emerson Espinoza 11, Curtis Stevenson 8, Edson Vasquez 3, Keyandre Hearvey 2.
Guyer (7-4, 2-0) — Sean Choate 20, Gordon Hill 13, Shelton Childress 9, Josh Jordan 6, Kason Kilgore 6, Zach Garza 6, Miles Crawford 3.
Guyer 45, Denton 38
Denton (7-7, 1-3 District 5-4A) — Jada Caitlin 9, Key-Alia Wafer 8, April Pena 7, Alex Mcintosh 6, Jordan Hudspeth 4, Taylor Seastrunk 4.
Guyer (10-2, 3-1) — Quamese Moss 13, Ola Akinniyi 10, Bre Wickware 9, Madi Franklin 4, Chandler Dean 4, Lauren Heard 2, Jada Colloway 2, Sarah Mack 1.