Playing for the first time in close to two weeks, the Houston High School boys basketball team had an easy time dispatching Summersville in a non-conference road game Friday night, as the Tigers led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and went on to a 73-34 victory.
Point guard Brody McNew not only orchestrated dozens of plays for Houston, but also had a career night offensively. The 6-3 sophomore nailed seven 3-pointers and scored a career high 29 points, while also yanking down 9 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
The Tigers pitched the shutout in the first period by incorporating active defense and dominating the boards. The host Wildcats broke their offensive drought with a free throw early in the second quarter and scored their first field goal of the contest when sophomore forward Tristan Duncan sank a shot from short range with 5:16 left in the period.
McNew drained three treys in the second quarter, and after he connected from deep with 1 second to go in the period, the Tigers enjoyed a 33-12 advantage at the break.
Summersville tried a full-court press in the third quarter, but it didn’t help and Houston extended the lead to 55-26 at the end of the period. The margin continued to increase in the fourth quarter, and HHS head coach Jim Moore seized the opportunity and allowed several reserve players to get in significant playing time.
The Tigers finished with a whopping 39 rebounds and a season-high 18 assists.
“I loved our intensity and effort on the defensive end and our ability to get out and run the floor,” Moore said. “And I loved the way we started the game and our first quarter efforts.”
In his breakout offensive performance, McNew scored 15 points in the first half and added 14 more in the second.
“He had a game!” Moore said. “I really liked that not only did he shoot the ball well, but he passed well and rebounded well.”
HHS senior forward Ty Franklin and junior forward Korbyn Tune were both seemingly everywhere in the game, as each finished with 13 points while also leading several fast breaks and yanking down numerous rebounds.
The Tigers didn’t hurt themselves when they went to the foul line, sinking 16-of-22 free throws in the contest. Franklin went 7-for-9 from the stripe.
Duncan sank two 3-pointers and led Summersville in scoring with 17 points, while freshman Garrin Greear had 9.
Even with a big lead, Moore kept coaching hard. At times he wished the Tigers would done a better job of picking up Wildcat ball handlers in transition situations.
“We have to stop the opposition’s transition game before they get to the lane,” Moore said. “If they’re getting to the lane before us trying to stop them it’s too late. We have to recognize earlier and get pressure on the ball before the 3-point line.”
Next up for Houston (5-6) is a pair of home games. The Tigers host Norwood on Tuesday and begin their South Central Association conference slate by facing Mountain Grove on Thursday.
“We’re definitely improving,” Moore said. “We still have some growing to do. We’re putting emphasis on rebounding, getting on the floor after 50/50 balls, taking charges – doing those intangibles that ‘tough’ teams do. We’re also trying to improve on our ‘grittiness.’ If we can find that part of our game and add it to what we do well already, I believe we could be a tough team to beat down the stretch.”
Moore and Co. have their sights set on making a run in the district playoffs in late February.
“We definitely will be battle-tested by districts,” Moore said. “We need to find ways to win those 50/50 games on our schedule and gain confidence.”