The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Sports

December 11, 2012

HORNET BASKETBALL — Too many turnovers

Hornets can’t dig out of 15-point hole, fall 67-56

HUNTSVILLE — Somehow, some way, the Hornets made Tuesday’s nondistrict basketball game against College Park interesting at the end. Ultimately, though, hustle and determination could not dig Huntsville out of a 15-point fourth-quarter hole.

The Cavaliers sweat a bit when the Hornets cut their lead to seven, but the visitors from The Woodlands held on and beat the Hornets 67-56.

College Park improved to 11-6 on the season. Huntsville dropped to 2-9.

“The difference in this game was two things: our turnovers versus their free throws,” Hornets coach Larry Carlson said after giving his players an upbeat speech about the way they hustled and never gave up. “We had 24 turnovers. That’s at least 10 too many.

“I can see what the kids were thinking, but we were just trying to pass the ball at angles that weren’t open.”

While College Park patiently built a 29-21 lead in the first half the Hornets helped out the Cavaliers by turning the ball over 10 times. Huntsville got even sloppier in the second half, making ill-advised passes across the court, trying to force the ball inside and feeding it too slowly. College Park’s defenders kept getting their hands on the ball and disrupting the Hornets’ offense.

College Park also made 14 of 21 free throws. Eleven of those freebies came in the fourth quarter when the Hornets were frantically trying to cut into the Cavaliers’ double-digit lead.

That worked to a point, with Cole Rodriguez popping a key 3, P.J. Minor scoring a pair of buckets, Xavier McNeil sinking two free throws and Kaleb Branch driving hard to the basket for a deuce. But after Branch’s layup made it 61-54, College Park’s Bryon Makel hit six consecutive free throws to put this one away.

“Tonight we learned we can compete with anybody if we give an all-out effort,” said Minor, who led the Hornets with 14 points and seven rebounds, but also had seven turnovers. “I think we’ve got a pretty good chance in our district if we can keep up with this 5A team.”

The Hornets hung around for most of the first three periods, but College Park drilled a pair of 3-pointers — one by Keanu Andaya and the other from McKinley Green — to push ahead by 16 at 43-27.

Huntsville sophomore Dacuan Jenkins helped the Hornets finish the third period with a flurry, taking a rebound and racing the length of the court for a crowd-pleasing dunk, then hitting a jumper at the buzzer to bring his team back to within nine at 43-34.

“The effort and intensity were there. You just can’t turn the ball over and expect to win many games,” said Huntsville senior Ricky Bennett, who scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Jenkins finished 11 points, Rodriguez had eight points and five boards and McNeil tossed in four points.

Desmond Fleming and Jayden Holden led the Cavaliers with 15 points apiece. Andaya added 13 points, with three 3-pointers.

“College Park is hard to guard. They move the ball so fast,” Carlson said. “They throw the ball corner to corner and they’ve got deadly shooters.

“That’s a tough 5A team, but that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to play tough 5A teams to get ready for the better district opponents,” added the coach. “Our schedule has been murderous, but we want to play against great competition, we want to play against speed and we want to play fast. We don’t want to play scared or unsure of ourselves. We’re going to play the best competition around so hopefully we get ready for the rest of our district schedule.”

The Hornets, who beat Magnolia last week in their 18-4A opener, head back into district play Friday when they hit the road to play Caney Creek. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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