Voks can’t sustain second-half rally against defending 28-4A champs
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Lanier’s coach didn’t like what either side of the number related to long-distance shooting revealed about his team Friday in its District 28-4A showdown with defending champion Brennan.
The two 3-point shots the Voks (15-6, 1-2) made in the 54-36 loss to Brennan (17-4, 3-0) was too small to suit Lanier coach Rudy Bernal. The 31 attempts from beyond the three-point line also was a disappointment at the Paul Taylor Gym.
What it revealed was that Lanier had settled for long shots, rather than drive for easier opportunities.
“We just needed to try to attack and continue to create openings for other players,” Bernal said. “We needed to get more players involved in the offense and get to the free-throw line.”
Lanier, No. 9 in the Express-News area rankings, didn’t attempt a free throw until 5:46 remained in the third quarter. By contrast, Brennan was having no difficulty scoring.
The Bears, No. 7 in the Express-New rankings, made six of eight shots in the first quarter, including four of four 3-pointers, while building a 17-6. They shot 50 percent on 20 field-goal attempts and added three free throws for a commanding 29-11 halftime lead.
Junior standout Jordan Murphy (10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) had 13 points at the midway mark. Murphy and teammate Jonathan Rodriguez, who sank four 3-pointers, each finished with 16 points.
“It’s always good to come out making some shots,” Brennan coach Tommy Hines said. “Lanier is a very, very good team. I told the guys they were going to have to work very hard in our zone against them.”
Hines, a South San alum, was bracing for a Lanier comeback, and the Voks didn’t disappoint.
“I’ve got more respect for Lanier than possibly any other program we play,” Hines said, “because of the way their program is run. They’re one of the toughest teams we’re going to play during the season.
“What they do speaks a lot for Coach Bernal. I have a ton of respect for him. He’s one of my all-time favorite coaches. He’s a guy I’ve looked up to for a long time.”
A rebound basket from Brennan’s Oluwatobi Osidele (7 rebounds, 3 steals) pushed Brennan’s lead to 20 points early in the third quarter. Lanier scored the next 14 points.
The run began with two free throws from senior Ajax Reyes (15 points, 7 steals). Following a short jumper from Chris Salazar (3 assists), Reyes converted a steal into a layup. The Voks forced eight turnovers in the quarter, while committing one.
Lanier had been plagued by eight turnovers in the first half.
“We needed to attack the basket,” Bernal said. “We came out for the third quarter, and that’s what we did. We got their lead down to six, so that was pretty effective. We were pretty fired up.”
Reyes forced another steal, which led to a pair of free throws from Rodrigo Garcia (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) that cut Brennan’s lead to 31-19. A pair of baskets from Salazar, one off a steal from Lanier freshman Isaiah Vargas, brought the Voks within 31-25 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.
“They’re big,” Bernal said, “so we weren’t going to get a lot of extra shots against them. We needed to make the shots we got count.”
Brennan had only taken three shots in the first six minutes of the period. But the Bears minimized the damage, making four of six shots to close the quarter with a 39-27 lead.
“I thought we spread the floor pretty well,” Hines said. “That helped us out.”
Despite a clever reverse layup from Lanier senior Nick Garcia, Rodriguez extended Brennan’s lead to 44-29 early in the fourth quarter with a three-point basket and two free throws. A three-pointer from Reyes cut it back to 12, but the Bears were never challenged again.
“We played very smart,” Hines said of the final quarter.
While Brennan and Edison (14-8, 3-0) remained undefeated after a full week of 28-4A play, Lanier had fallen off the pace by losing to those two schools. However, Bernal understood that it was too soon to panic.
“We’ve got some more important games coming up,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we take care of business with everyone else.”
Brennan 79, Brackenridge 66
Brackenridge (12-10, 2-1) gave Brennan a battle Tuesday at the Lanier Alumni Center.
Eagles senior Gabe Hildebrand produced a 33-point scoring effort and helped keep his team in the game until late in the second half against the defending District 28-4A champion Bears. Hildebrand scored 17 points in the first half.
Brackenridge extended its 13-11 first-quarter lead to 32-25 at halftime. Brennan outscored the Eagles 30-11 in the third quarter.
Sophomore Richard Wallace contributed 12 points and Davonte Anderson scored 10 for Brack. Murphy scored 29 points for the Bears.
Brackenridge completed the week with a 59-45 win over archrival Burbank (10-11, 1-2) Saturday at Lanier. The Bulldogs led 27-24 at halftime, but the Eagles pulled away on the strength of 35 second-half points.
Hildebrand led five double-figure Brack scorers with 14 points. Wallace (13 points), Anderson (12) and point guard Aaron Lopez (10) also were key contributors. For Burbank, Gabriel Rangel scored 12 points and Paul Rojas added 10. Matthew Juarez had eight for the Bulldogs.
Central Catholic 55, New Braunfels 51
Central Catholic (14-6) won its 11th-consecutive game Friday, claiming a four-point road victory over New Braunfels (11-10).
The Buttons outscored the Unicorns 18-10 in the first quarter and led at the end of each quarter. New Braunfels was within 28-26 at halftime.
Senior post Daniel Kellum led a balanced Central Catholic attack with 12 points. Senior Zac Tingle contributed 11 points. P.J. Escobar also was in double figures with 10. Tony Lewis chipped in with nine points.
Central Catholic smacked visiting Houston St. Thomas 87-57 Monday in a non-district game. Lewis led 13 Central Catholic scorers with 19 points and Kellum added 16.