By Will Johnson
SLOCUM – On Tuesday evening, it was cold outside. It was also chilly on the court at Slocum High School as the Grapeland Sandies and Slocum Mustangs squared off in a District 20-2A contest.
Neither team could seem to find their rhythm as both struggled from the field. The Mustangs finally found their shooting touch in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late, as the Sandies hung on for a hard-fought 58-52 win.
Once the game tipped off, the first quarter set the tone for the game. Neither team could buy a basket and it wasn’t until nearly two-and-a-half minutes had run off the game clock before Grapeland’s Cole Goolsby drained a three-pointer to open the scoring.
Only 14 more points – combined – were scored in the opening eight minutes. The Sandies dropped in seven more while the Mustangs scored seven themselves. Goolsby and Omarian Wiley both had three for Grapeland in the first while Zan Anderson and Riley Murchison had two apiece to help the Sandies take an early 10-7 lead.
Mark Guess had three for Slocum in the period while both Jose Molina and Lex Rich had two.
As the second quarter got underway, Grapeland began to apply a pressure defense which allowed them to go on a 7-2 run before Slocum called a timeout. It didn’t seem to work as after the stoppage in play, the Sandies went on 7-0 run to push the score out to 24-9.
Just when it seemed Grapeland would run away with the game, the Mustangs would battle back to stay within striking distance as they went to the locker room at halftime only trailing by 15.
Lex Rich paced Slocum with four points in the second while Guess, Molina and Jesse Pierce all had two apiece. Ryan La Roche closed out the first half scoring for the Mustangs as he converted one of two from the charity stripe.
Wiley led the charge for the Sandies in the second quarter as he pumped in 10 points on a pair of threes and a pair of twos. Goolsby knocked down another two shots from behind the arc for six while LeLe Smith converted an “and one” for three. Murchison and Johnny Lamb split the other four points equally as Grapeland led by a score of 33-18 at the break.
After the intermission, the two teams continued to struggle from the floor. The Mustangs did manage to cut into the lead and only trailed by 12 until Wiley canned a pair of free throws. Slocum wouldn’t roll over, however. The home team sliced the lead to nine before Lamb knocked down three from the line to extend the margin back to 12 as the Sandies went on a 7-0 run to end the third quarter leading by a 47-31 margin.
Lamb and Murchison netted five apiece in the third while Wiley accounted for the remaining four.
Molina started to heat up for Slocum as he put in six points in the third. Guess added another four while Rich chipped in two and Stratton Wendall converted one of two from the line to round the Mustangs’ third quarter scoring.
The fourth quarter saw the shooting woes for Grapeland continue while Slocum managed to break out of its slump. The Sandies held a 12-point lead at the two-minute mark but then Molina caught fire for the Mustangs as he put in eight of his 13 points in the final quarter during a 90-second span.
Slocum sliced the lead to eight with 30 seconds left but couldn’t quite complete the comeback as Grapeland held on for a 58-52 win.
On the game, the Mustangs were led by Jose Molina with a game-high 23 points. Mark Guess joined him in double figures 13 and Lex Rich went for eight. Jesse Pierce had four, Ryan LaRoche added three and Stratton Wendall chipped in one to account for the Slocum point production.
Omarian Wiley led the way for Grapeland with a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Cole Goolsby and Riley Murchison were also in double figures with 11 points apiece. Goolsby also pulled down six boards while Murchison had four rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Johnny Lamb dropped in nine points to go along with three rebounds, four assists and four steals. Zan Anderson put in seven while LeLe Smith chipped in three points and yanked down 10 rebounds.
The win moves Grapeland to 2-0 in District 20-2A action while Slocum is now 0-2.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.