Yes, there were two teams playing Friday night at Billy Ryan Gym. But it hardly felt like it, as the stands were essentially empty for Ryan’s nondistirct game against Gainesville.
Ryan coach Bryce Overstreet, who’s typically shouting orders at his players, mostly stayed silent in his seat on the bench. Gainesville coach Eric Johns was exasperated for most of the game for different reasons, but mainly at the amount of turnovers his team committed.
Those turnovers ended up being a huge reason Ryan casually picked up a 51-43 victory over Gainesville.
The Raiders, newcomers to Class 5A, were coming off a win Monday against Argyle, the defending 3A state champion. Four days later, Ryan faced a depleted Gainesville squad and Overstreet said his team lacked energy throughout the game.
“I felt like tonight we just came out flat and we were never able to get it going emotionally,” Overstreet said. “That hurt us physically as well.”
Senior guard Montarius Banks and senior forward Quincy Jones each had 14 points to lead Ryan. Center De’Quan Wilford led Gainesville with 11 points and forward Denzel Johnson scored 10.
The Leopards (4-3) were without starting guards David Moore and Demetrius Franklin, leaving a void in their backcourt.
Ryan’s relentless full-court pressure forced Gainesville to commit 28 turnovers.
“That hurt us,” Johns said of the absence of Moore and Franklin. “That’s one of the reasons their press worked so well tonight. They have great athletes and they’re very disciplined. … My guys gave it all they had. We just made a few too many mistakes tonight.”
By the end of the first half, the Leopards had more turnovers (18) than points (15). The Raiders had built a commanding 16-point lead at one point and took a 13-point lead into halftime.
Ryan (10-3) also was without two key guards for most of the game. Senior Gilbert Jackson hobbled off the court with less than five minutes left in the first quarter and did not return. Junior Xavier Gray injured his ankle during football season and has yet to see action on the basketball court.
“Coming out after the half, he didn’t feel like he was capable of giving his all,” Overstreet said of Jackson. “If a kid’s not capable of doing that and you’ve got an able body that can go out there and make plays, then you have to do that.
“Gilbert will be fine. I’ve never questioned his work ethic and who he is.”
The backcourt was steadied by Banks and guard Jeremy Lenoire, who scored 11 points.
Ryan ended the third quarter with an 11-point lead. Gainesville reverted to its bad habits and opened the fourth quarter with two straight turnovers. Ryan scored six straight points to push its lead to 17 and force a frustrated Johns to call timeout.
It was that kind of night for both coaches — men eagerly anticipating having their full complement of players before district play begins.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com
Ryan 51, Gainesville 43
Gainesville — Andrew Dickerson 2, Chance Sikes 6, Jacob Royal 4, Kisean Jackson 2, Landon Bond 4, Jonathan Mendez 4, Denzel Johnson 10, De’Quan Wilford 11.
Ryan — Gilbert Jackson 3, Montarius Banks 3, Quincy Jones 14, Jeremy Lenoire 11, Allen Grant 4, Nick Jones 5.