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Defense shuts down Holland

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IMG 7452Tavian Battise shoots this jumper from the baseline.

By Brian Besch
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Big Sandy held Holland to just 13 points in the first half and won each period Friday, defeating the Hornets 54-36 in the area playoff round on the campus of Navasota High School.

Points were hard to come by in the first quarter, but the Wildcats received a couple of 3-pointers from Javen Criswell to take a 10-4 lead after eight minutes of play. The Hornets held a 4-0 lead, but Big Sandy rolled off 10 straight and would never look back. Both defenses forced outside shots in the period, and shooting was not on target for either team.

“We did a good job defensively contesting everything that they took for the most part,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “They really hurt us in the first half rebounding. We did a better job in the second half. They had eight offensive rebounds for eight points. They had 13 (points) at half, so we could have held them to five. That’s how good of defense we were playing, but you have to finish those possessions. I thought we shot the ball well, even though we started cold. They run an extended zone and one of our game plans was to have our guards really attack that zone. I thought Jamesley (Flowers) did good and Tavian (Battise) did a tremendous job of attacking those gaps.”

Big Sandy did move the ball well around the Holland zone in the second, resulting in a few buckets near the rim. Holland received many second, third and even fourth chances on the offensive end, but the rebounding didn’t help as much as it should. The Hornets missed far too many attempts from point-blank range. Just before the first-half buzzer sounded, Battise drilled a half-court shot to put the Wildcats up 23-13.

The solid defense from the Wildcats continued into the third quarter. The ‘Cats hit another buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter, this time, Nick Ortiz connected on a three-pointer as time expired. With just one quarter to play, Big Sandy had a 15-point lead at 40-25.

The pressure remained on Holland until the final whistle. They were outscored in every quarter because of a defense that worked hard.

“We didn’t turn it over a lot,” Foster said. “Even when they did get rebounds, they were still contesting a lot of them when they put it back up. Maybe it was a bad night for them.”

Foster said one of the positives of not having his team for the entire season was the amount of playing time everyone received.

“That is where tradition comes in and expectations of the program as a whole. We just have a certain standard for our guys to play and they definitely, these first two games, have risen to those standards. We have had two good games and they are all going to get tougher. We will enjoy this one and try to prepare.” 

Criswell led all scores with 21, Flowers had 11 and Ortiz nine.

“That was our eleventh game tonight where we have had everybody together,” Foster said. “I feel like we are a lot better than we were two weeks ago. It is all about how we play the next game, but I do like how we are playing.”

Big Sandy will challenge Thrall Tuesday after their triumph over Evadale 70-66. The Tigers were third in Holland’s district (Holland finished second) and Evadale won Big Sandy’s 25-2A. Foster described Thrall as very dangerous and athletic.

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