KELLER — Heading into Tuesday night’s playoff opener, the Guyer basketball team was dealing with some adversity.
One of the Wildcats’ top scorers, Sean Choate, spent the entire day vomiting and wasn’t feeling much better by game time. And star forward Josh Jordan flew back home late Monday night after spending the past five days in Michigan after the passing of his grandmother.
Early on, the Wildcats struggled, turning the ball over three times on their first three trips down the floor, but it didn’t take long for them to pull away from Saginaw, scoring a 70-37 victory over the Rough Riders in the Class 4A Region I bi-district round at Keller Central.
Guyer (18-10) moves on to face No. 13 Everman (24-3) in the area round, which is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
Jordan, who has been nursing a knee that he has been rehabbing all season, didn’t play until the second quarter, but the Wildcats got plenty of good minutes from reserve forward Gordon Hill.
The 6-foot-6 junior scored 12 points and pulled down five rebounds while sparking a key run late in the first half to send Guyer to the locker room with a 18-point lead after closing the half on a 16-2 run.
“I’m super proud of Gordon Hill,” Guyer head coach Grant Long said. “When that kid plays aggressive, he’s a great player. I’m just proud of his aggression and how hard he played. He came up with 50-50 balls, loose balls and rebounds.”
Choate scored a team-high 13 points for the Wildcats, the second seed out of District 5-4A, while playing limited minutes. He was 2-for-3 from beyond the the 3-point arc.
“He’s sick and not feeling good, and he just gutted through it and played a great game,” Long said.
Guyer pulled away late in the first half, and killed any hope the Rough Riders (15-10) had early in the second half.
Saginaw was held scoreless over the final 2:48 of the second quarter and for the first 2:20 of the third quarter. The Rough Riders managed only a 3-pointer from Arique Moss in the third quarter, as Guyer outscored Saginaw 36-9 in the second and third quarters combined.
Long praised his team’s defensive effort, specifically guard Kason Kilgore, who held Saginaw’s leading scorer, Tyler Flores, to no points after he entered the game averaging 14 points per game this season.
“That’s everything,” Long said. “Our defense led to everything else tonight. Our defensive intensity and the deflections going to the rim really sparked that run at the end of the first half.”
Now, Guyer gets a whole new challenge in Everman, which defeated Aledo 74-40 on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs are loaded with athletic guards but lack in size.
“They’ll be a very good test for us,” Long said. “We want to contain the basketball against them. But they can shoot, as well, so we have to make sure we keep them from driving and get a hand in their face on the shot.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 70, Saginaw 37
Saginaw (15-10) — Zach Tomblin 2, Malcolm McGruder 3, T.J. Edwards 4, Syntrell Greer 8, C.J. Moss 2, LaDamien Crawley 4, Arique Moss 14.
Guyer (18-10) — Bryson Erby 4, Sean Choate 13, Shelton Childress 7, Miles Crawford 6, Alex Partridge 2, Zach Garza 8, Mitchell Willard 4, Kason Kilgore 4, Josh Jordan 6, Gordon Hill 12, Xavier Brown 4.