By Larry Lamb
CROCKETT -- The late-starting Crockett Bulldogs are still getting their basketball legs under them, but their performance last Tuesday afternoon was still good enough for them to knock off a class 6A squad.
Coach Drae Murray’s crew handily defeated the visiting Pasadena Eagles, 60-46, in The Hop.
“It was a good win for us. We had to show our guys we can play against any classification. It doesn’t matter. Levels don’t mean anything in basketball because there’s only a certain number of guys you can put on a court in every level. Any level can beat any level. We have to get our guys to see that Crockett basketball can play with anybody. I really believe that,” said Murray, whose team knocked off class 4A Navasota 58-49 a day before the Pasadena game.
This was only the fourth game for the Bulldogs (3-1) while Pasadena has eight games under its belt.
“Pasadena just finished a tournament, so they’ve already played seven games before this one,” pointed out Murray.
“They lost one of their best players who transferred to another school but they still have their other three main guys who are really good. We were able to shut down one of their top guys – No. 3 – who got in foul trouble. Their big man wasn’t too much of a factor,” added Murray.
Pasadena won its district last year and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
After leading Pasadena by five at the end of the first two quarters, 15-10 and 30-25, the Bulldogs outscored their guests by six in their third to pull away 49-38.
“We came out and matched them blow-for-blow—we’d score, then they’d score. Eventually we settled in and were able to force some turnovers early. That’s our thing. We want to force turnovers and get out in transition run. That's what we do well and we were able to do that. We got some easy layups that helped us build a pretty comfortable lead,” said Murray.
Junior Jadyn Collins scored 16 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 19.
After a scoreless first half, junior Courtney Byrd heated up and scored 11 in the third quarter on the way to a 16-point game.
“Jadyn played well for us again and Courtney was a force inside,” said Murray.
Senior Tayshawn Simon rounded out double figures with 12. Delvin Walker chipped in 5, Keshun Easterling 4, Bre’dron Tucker 2 and Iverson Rischer 2
“Iverson came off the bench and gave us some good minutes. It probably doesn’t show on the stat sheets, but defensively he did a great job rebounding. He’s just a sophomore and he’s been playing good lately, so that’s a plus going deeper into the season,” said Murray.
Pasadena, which slipped to 3-5, had three double-digit scorers who accounted for all but four of its points.
“I think the big factor was that we’re really good at transition and really fast. My high school coach was here today watching and the first thing he said to me was, ‘you guys are really fast’. We knew we were the most athletic team today and I told my guys if we’re going to beat this team we’ve got to run. That’s what we did. One of the things I put on our board during the pregame speech was run-run-run. We did that against Pasadena but we have to get better at rebounding,” said the coach.
Murray said another advantage is the Bulldogs’ deep bench.
“We’re really deep. On any night, somebody different can step up for us. Today, our sophomore starting guard Jarodrick Holmes didn’t have a good game but Iverson (Rischer) stepped in and picked up the slack. They’re both sophomores who are best friends, so it’s good to have a guy you can depend on.”
The Bulldogs’ conditioning improves with each game, added Murray.
“We started working on conditioning after our first game against Mumford. I put in a drill where the players have to make a certain number of shots. If you don’t make the shots in a specified amount of time, you have to run. I knew we wouldn’t make those shots. I was just trying to get in some conditioning instead of telling them to run. We did the drill twice and missed, so we did 50 sprints. The guys were gassed. They were laying on the floor,” said Murray.
The Bulldogs have played four games since their season opener Nov. 16.
“We’ve been conditioning a lot. We’ve played so many games back-to-back so we haven’t had very many practices, but when we do practice, we devote a lot of time to conditioning. You can tell it’s paying off for us. We’re getting better every game,” said Murray.
Against Navasota, the Bulldogs outscored the Rattlers by 10 in the second period to take a 37-23 lead into halftime The Rattlers closed the gap to six, 47-41, in the third period but the Bulldogs finished strong for the 58-49 victory.
Byrd and Walker each canned 15 to pace the Bulldogs. Collins had 9, Simon 8, Holmes 5, Tucker 4 and Rischer 2.