Denton trailed by six after the first period Friday but countered with arguably its best quarter of the season, so at halftime the question wasn’t whether the Broncos would win. It was whether they could put together their most complete victory.
The Broncos answered that question with a resounding yes in a 92-51 win over visiting Wichita Falls. Denton junior Curtis Stevenson’s game-high 25 points came largely as a product of strong defense and execution in the Broncos’ transition offense.
“We just played our game, moving around the ball and playing as a team,” Stevenson said. “Everybody was just doing their role. When everybody does the little things, it makes the big things happen like today. We want to have a lot more like these, so we’re going to keep playing like we have and get more victories like this.”
Denton outscored Wichita Falls 35-8 in the second quarter to take a 49-28 lead into halftime.
With the Coyotes (4-12, 1-2 District 5-4A) playing a zone defense, the Broncos were hesitant to attack at first. Once Denton’s defense came around, the transition points began flowing easily.
“After the first quarter, they came out very strong,” Denton senior Adarian Harris said of his teammates. “Old High is a tough team to beat, but we came out playing defense. We started getting back and boarding late. Once coach Jackson got on our rear end, we started getting back, starting playing defense, getting transition steals and transition buckets.”
Harris and senior Deamonte Hughes each scored 16 points.
Jackson made a change to the zone defense after the first quarter, and the Broncos used it efficiently to limit the penetration by the speedy Coyote guards.
“I think the kids responded really well,” Jackson said. “We changed defenses on them and I thought the kids executed the defense very well. I think that took them [the Coyotes] out of what they wanted to do. I think they wanted to penetrate and we didn’t allow them opportunities to do that. They started to turn the ball over, and we were able to take advantage of those turnovers and get some layups.”
With Denton (5-9, 2-1) securing a 21-point halftime lead, Jackson was able to get his second string in the game. The backups didn’t seem to miss a beat as they outscored the Coyotes 24-12 in the third quarter and 19-11 in the fourth.
“Coach always emphasizes that an unselfish team is hard team to beat, so whoever is up, we give them the ball and then we play defense,” Harris said.
Wichita Falls 43, Denton 35
“How about we play a little defense now,” is what Denton girls coach Dennis Krishka shouted midway through the second quarter.
The Lady Broncos (7-9, 1-4) had a productive first half in which they scored in double digits in each quarter, but for a team that relies on its defense, the effort and energy were just not there.
When Denton got its act together on defense in the second half, its offense went ice-cold and scored just five points in each of the final two quarters.
“We didn’t play our kind of defense today,” Krishka said. “We just didn’t have a whole lot of energy today. I told the kids all week, ‘You’re going to be the most talented team on the floor, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to be the best team.’ We should have had them put away in the first half.”
Alex Mcintosh led the Lady Broncos with a game-high 14 points, but the Lady Coyotes (10-4, 3-2) had a more balanced scoring attack with three players in double digits.
With the game tied at 30 heading to the fourth, it was the Lady Coyotes’ defense that rose to the challenge and forced the Lady Broncos into some turnovers.
“The second half, they picked up their intensity a bit, and when we would get a rebound, they would double-team us,” Krishka said. “We weren’t strong enough or smart enough to get it out of there, and that’s what turned the game for them.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Denton 92, Wichita Falls 51
Wichita Falls (4-12, 1-2) — Michael Williams 10, Kaliel Young 8, Demetrius Mozeke 8, Garron Nash 7, Jordon Reece 7, David Scott 6, Quenton Ezell 3, Eric Butler 2.
Denton (5-9, 2-1) — Curtis Stevenson 25, Deamonte Hughes 16, Adarian Harris 16, Zac Muthiani 8, Dolan Nicholson 8, Cy Ward 6, Key’andre Hearvey 4, Edson Vasquez 4, Emerson Espinoza 2, DeAndre Coleman 2, Lamonte Moss 1.
Wichita Falls 43, Denton 35
Wichita Falls (10-4, 3-2) — Sha’Dazha Williams 13, Eshay Hervey 11, Corine Arrendondo 11, Dominique Shrubs 4, Zemetria Scroggins 4.
Denton (7-9, 1-4) — Alex Mcintosh 14, Key-Alia Wafer 8, Taylor Allison 4, Taylor Seastrunk 3, Mariah Seastrunk 2, Paisha Brown 2, April Pena 2.