In the first meeting this season between crosstown rivals Denton and Guyer, the Wildcats’ stellar outside shooting and stiff second-quarter defense allowed them to fend off the Broncos’ rally on their way to a 65-58 win Friday at the Purple Pit.
The Wildcats had three players in double figures, with Justin Griffin leading the way with 18 points. Zack Duncan had 17 points and Sean Choate added 14.
“[Griffin] played big for us,” Guyer coach Grant Long said. “He rebounded the ball well and he also finished inside. I was very proud of his effort. The biggest thing I was most proud of was the three charges he took. They were huge. They [the Broncos] are so good at getting to the basket.”
Choate had his 3-point shot clicking in the Wildcats’ 17-9 second quarter as he spread Denton’s defense out on the way to nine points in the quarter. Guyer forced several Denton turnovers, and difficult outside shots led to easy baskets in transition for the Wildcats, who led 29-22 at halftime.
“The second quarter was huge,” Long said. “We went back to our man-to-man defense, we pushed the ball and we were protecting the paint. We were making them take jump shots and pushing the ball in transition to get baskets on the other end. In the second half, they kept putting pressure on us. They are a great team and they are going to win some games. I see them making a playoff run too.”
Denton center Greg Helt’s 21 points led all scorers.
“Greg has really been working hard,” Denton coach Harold Jackson said. “He had one move and a counter. That’s all it takes down there in the post. You can have a move and a counter move and you can make a living down there.”
While Helt did damage down low, the rest of the Broncos (6-10, 1-1 District 5-4A) were limited to single-digit scoring, but against the No. 17 team in the state, Jackson said he was proud of how his team played.
“I thought all my kids played well and Guyer’s kids played well,” Jackson said. “I thought they beat us to the 50-50 balls first and they got a couple more rebounds than we did.”
With the score close throughout the game, Jackson said he felt as if the game boiled down to whoever could secure loose balls.
“I thought my guys played well on the defensive end,” Jackson said. “I thought that when we really got broken down was with the loose balls. They were able to beat us to them, gather them up and find those guys for open shots.”
The Wildcats started the game by hitting two 3s for a 6-2 advantage, but Helt’s hook shot helped spur an eight-point run for the Broncos to give them a 10-6 lead. Duncan’s 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 13-12 Denton.
Helt’s nine third-quarter points helped the Broncos trim the lead to four points as the Wildcats took a 44-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats hit nine of 11 free throws down the stretch. Ryan Daniels brought the Broncos to within 54-52, but a Duncan 3-pointer and a Griffin bucket helped extend the lead to 59-52 with 53 seconds left.
Guyer (11-3, 2-0) stayed perfect in District 5-4A play.
“We are very happy with the start of the season,” Long said. “I couldn’t be happier with how the kids are sticking together and playing hard. They are just doing what we do and playing smart together. It’s going to be a hard district ahead. It’s a real tough place to win at, and we are happy to get a win.”
Guyer 44, Denton 24
Guyer’s Quamese Moss led all scorers with 16 points.
“She basically runs our team,” Guyer coach Harold Colson said. “When’s she aggressive offensively and defensively, she makes us a lot better basketball team.”
Moss’ six points in the first quarter and the team’s tenacious press defense helped Guyer (14-3, 3-1) jump out to a 14-6 lead.
That defense continued to frustrate the Lady Broncos, who committed several turnovers while trying to get the ball up the floor.
“We thought that if we pressured them that we could force them into some turnovers,” Colson said. “We kind of got them out of their game early, and they kind of showed what they could do offensively in the second half.”
The Lady Broncos (4-15, 0-4) came around in the second half but couldn’t erase an 18-point halftime deficit.
Both Guyer teams have shown smooth transitions into District 5-4A play, and Colson said his team would be 4-0 this season if it weren’t for a rough start to the game against Wichita Falls.
“We went up Wichita Falls, spotted them an 18-point lead and ended up losing by two,” Colson said. “We felt like that is one that got away from us and we feel like we should be 4-0. Like I always tell the girls, we need to make sure we get better every day so we can maintain that same focus and execution that wins games.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Guyer 65, Denton 58
Guyer — Justin Griffin 18, Zack Duncan 17, Sean Choate 14, Miles Crawford 8, Mitchell Willard 5, Alex Partridge 3.
Denton — Greg Helt 21, Adarian Harris 8, Manny Patterson 6, Ryan Daniels 6, Chavis Johnson 5, Deamonte Hughes 4, Wendall Williams 4, Michael Jackson 4.
Guyer 44, Denton 24
Guyer — Quamese Moss 16, Bre Wickware 9, Olawnmi Akinnyi 6, Bre Clay-Baker 5, Jada Callaway 5, Madison Franklin 3.
Denton — Le’andra Johnson 8, April Pena 5, Jordan Mazziotta 4, Myesha Taylor 3, LaNeisha Hudspeth 2, Mariah Seastrunk 2.