Mustangs hold off Hurricanes’ late push
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Jefferson, Sam Houston.
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Jefferson doesn’t usually employ a zone defense, but Mustangs coach Eric de los Santos decided he needed to go with prevailing opinion.
Results this year have shown that Sam Houston has struggled against a zone, as first-year coach Erik Coleman admitted after the Mustangs’ 49-40 win Dec. 19 at the Alamo Convocation Center. It was easy to understand why Jefferson’s active 2-3 zone became Jefferson’s weapon of choice.
In fact, de los Santos said he’d had the defense in his back pocket for a couple of weeks. Jefferson (8-8, 1-2) had been drilling on it in practice for that long and learned its lessons well.
“Sam Houston is a team that wants to run,” he said. “They’re so athletic, we couldn’t match up. We needed to stop their penetration and turn them into jump shooters.”
The Hurricanes (2-10, 0-3), who won their first two games over the previous weekend, fell behind 13-4 at the outset. They closed the gap to 38-34 with 5:53 remaining, but never led.
“Going against a 2-3 zone has been our downfall,” Coleman said. “Working against a zone, you have to have a lot of patience. You also have to hit some shots, and we weren’t doing that. We were executing our offense well, but we weren’t getting the put-backs.”
Jefferson guard Dominick Perez (14 points) hit two three-point shots in the Mustangs’ opening flurry. Sophomore post Noah Soto (16 points, 12 rebounds) blocked a shot and drove the length of the court to convert a layup. Jefferson dictated the game’s energy from the start against the dangerous Hurricanes.
“I was just trying to get in my rhythm,” Perez said. “I was trying to get some points. I wanted to pick us up because we were 0-2 (in district).”
With 3:05 left in the first half, a three-point basket by Sam Houston junior Robert Christian (21 points, 7 rebounds) brought the Hurricanes within 17-15. Another basket by Christian on an assist from Dewayne Brown tied it 19-19 at the half.
Jefferson scored the first seven points in the second half. Raymonte Prime scored on a drive to reduce the Hurricanes’ deficit to four early in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs responded. Soto made a fadeaway jumper and Perez notched a layup to extend Jefferson’s lead.
“We wanted to make them play our game,” Perez said. “We didn’t want to play their game.”