By Brian Besch
Both teams put up plenty of points, but it would be Shepherd that won an 86-74 battle in San Jacinto County Tuesday night over the Wildcats of Onalaska.
After winning two district games in a row, Onalaska was looking to make a run in league play that would vault the team into playoff contention.
However, they could not stop a Pirate offense that performed at its peak.
Though the Wildcats were able to put up plenty of points, big posts Braydon Mettlen and Tristen Cullum changed enough shots down low in the paint to keep shooters wary.
“We adjusted for no reason, because he wasn’t really contesting anything,” Onalaska coach Nick Tyerman said. “That is just on us, we have to do a better job of not letting size intimidate us and just finish. We let them dictate the tempo early and that hurt us. That is why we got ourselves in a hole. We can’t let other teams dictate our pace. We let it be slower than we want it to be and we weren’t as active creating turnovers. We didn’t rotate to where we needed to be. It is hard whenever you’re beating yourself. We weren’t as active on both sides of the floor as we have been and should be.”
Shepherd would score more than its guests in all but the second period, when the teams put up 17 points each. That would be the lowest production for the Pirates, who had 27 in the final quarter.
“Tonight, we brought it,” Shepherd coach Jeremy Bennett said. “They switched it up on us and did something different. We didn’t even practice on it, we just adjusted and made good plays. We played great defensively, and offensively we put up 86 points. That is a high this season. We are gelling and we are coming together.”
Shepherd is currently in a three-way tie with Coldspring and Tarkington for third place. New Waverly and Crockett are tied for first place atop the district with 6-1 records.
“We came back after the break and were kind of sluggish, but now we have just picked it up,” Bennett said. “This is our fourth win in a row. We were 1-3 in district and I challenged the kids to get these last three. We got the last three and now a fourth one, so they are stepping up to the challenge.”
Mettlen scored 23 points to lead all scores, while Pirates Cullum had 19, Payton Burton 18 and Jesse Valerie 17. For the ‘Cats, Brady Smith had 16, Kash Soliz and Bryan Wyatt had 12, and Johnny Byrd 11.
At Trinity Friday and back home for Tarkington Tuesday are next up for Onalaska. Shepherd will have a tip at Tarkington Friday and return home Tuesday for Crockett.