When Miles Crawford pulled down a rebound as the final buzzer sounded in front of a record crowd at Wildcat Gymnasium, the Guyer junior slammed the ball on the ground and ran toward midcourt to meet his teammates.
Crawford was excited about his team’s 55-51 win over crosstown foe Denton, and without him the Wildcats (18-6, 8-1 District 5-4A) might have been on the other end of the score in a game that broke up a three-way tie atop the standings. Guyer and Trophy Club Nelson now sit in a tie for first place as the two teams prepare to meet Tuesday in Trophy Club.
“It was a big relief because it was a tough game the whole time and a tough game for me,” Crawford said. “We just pulled through. It was a lot of emotion coming out of me in the end.”
The shooting guard, who entered the game as Guyer’s leading scorer, finished with a team-high 12 points, with 10 coming in the fourth quarter, when he went 8-for-10 from the foul line. He finished with just one field goal. He also battled foul trouble, as did many players, and was forced to sit the entire second quarter.
“I just had to stay into the game, and I just had to make it when it counted for my team,” Crawford said. “I had to be clutch for my team. I wasn’t going the whole game and was in foul trouble. I got back in the game and knocked down some clutch free throws.”
The second quarter was monstrous for the Broncos (12-14, 7-2), who outscored the Wildcats 23-11 after Denton started the game on a six-minute scoreless stretch that saw Guyer jump out to 12-0 lead.
“I thought we were a little tight, and once the second quarter came around, we relaxed a little bit and were able to knock some shots down and play a little bit more like we can,” Denton coach Harold Jackson said.
The Broncos got the lead for the first time with seven-tenths of a second to play in the first half when Ryan Daniels was fouled on a layup attempt and the ball rolled around the rim before dropping in. The foul was Guyer point guard D.J. Breedlove’s fourth, and Daniels converted the free throw to give the Broncos a 27-25 lead.
Breedlove played much of the fourth quarter with four fouls, as did Crawford. Denton had two players foul out in the final minutes as the Broncos closed to within two points.
“We definitely had to change and adjust our game plan because of the foul trouble,” Guyer coach Grant Long said. “It was consistent on both ends. Both teams were in foul trouble, and you expect a rough game in a rivalry game like that. The refs had to keep it under control, and you can kind of expect that.”
The Wildcats, No. 14 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 4A poll, usually make their living from outside the 3-point arc. On Friday, they shot 4 for 12 from long distance, but Long said his team’s defense to start both the game and the second half helped them overcome their shooting deficiencies.
In the first and third quarters combined, Guyer outscored Denton 30-14.
“I thought our defense in the first quarter coming out was excellent, and in the third quarter,” Long said. “They just gutted it out. We battled and fought through it.
“We talked at halftime about how they were going to make a run. They’re a good team. They do get on runs and they push the ball. We talked about it at halftime, ‘That [second quarter] was their run, now it’s time to make ours.’”
The Broncos were led by Michael Jackson’s 13 points, while Sean Choate was the only other scorer in double figures for Guyer, chipping in 11.
The loss snapped Denton’s six-game district winning streak.
Next up for Guyer is a second straight big game, as the Wildcats will face 15th-ranked Trophy Club Nelson. In the teams’ last meeting, the Bobcats won by four.
“I always talk to our guys about preparing and finishing,” Long said. “We’re going to prepare just like we have. We were prepared last time; we just didn’t play like we can in the first half. We’re going to be prepared.”
But despite all that’s riding on the game, it’s unlikely the Wildcats will see an atmosphere like they did Friday night. The top level of bleachers — usually empty — at Wildcat Gymnasium was near capacity on each side.
“I’m very proud to be a part of Denton basketball in this atmosphere,” Long said. “It was a great atmosphere and that’s how Denton basketball is supposed to be. It was two great teams battling it out. They fought and battled and battled, and we did the same thing.
“They’d hit us and we’d come right back and hit them back. It was a fight all night long. It was a great game and fun to be a part of.”
Guyer 44, Denton 35
Guyer used a big third quarter to get a lead it was able to hold in the final frame to keep the Lady Wildcats in sole possession of second place in District 5-4A with three games remaining.
The Lady Wildcats (19-7, 9-2) were led by Quamese Moss’ 14 points, even though she went scoreless in the fourth quarter, while Bre Wickware chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with Tierney Peters’ 10 points.
The first half was plagued by fouls, which put both teams in the bonus early in the second quarter, leading to a 16-15 Guyer halftime lead.
“When you have that many fouls going back and forth, it’s hard for both teams to get in any kind of rhythm,” Guyer coach Harold Colson said. “Credit the girls because they didn’t back down and went blow-for-blow with them and got to where we could eventually do the things we needed to.”
Denton (7-19, 2-9) closed to within five points in the final minute as Guyer played keep-away before two late easy layups from Bre Clay-Baker put the game on ice.
“Our kids really played their hearts out,” Denton coach Dennis Krishka said. “We had opportunities and missed some easy shots. We make a few more shots here and there and it’s a different game. They made us chase them in the fourth, so that tells me they were a little worried maybe.”
Denton was led by Myesha Taylor’s 14 points, including nine at the foul line.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Guyer 55, Denton 51
Denton 4 23 10 14 — 51
Guyer 14 11 16 14 — 55
Denton (12-14, 7-2) — Michael Jackson 13, Ryan Daniels 9, Romeo Purvis 2, Chavis Johnson 3, AD Harris 9, Erik Dixon 8, Manny Patterson 2, Deamonte Hughes 5.
Guyer (18-6, 8-1) — Jerrod Heard 6, D.J. Breedlove 4, Sean Choate 11, Miles Crawford 12, Alex Partridge 6, Zack Duncan 8, Justin Griffin 4, Xavier Brown 4.
Guyer 44, Denton 35
Denton 5 10 8 12 — 35
Guyer 9 7 14 14 — 44
Denton (7-19, 2-9) — Myesha Taylor 14, Leandra Johnson 7, Lyric King 5, Mariah Seastrunk 5, Victoria Amadi 2, Jordan Hudspeth 2.
Guyer (19-7, 9-2) — Quamese Moss 14, Tierney Peters 10, Bre Wickware 11, Bre Clay-Baker 7, Ola Akinniyi 1.