By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
After losing two consecutive games to Lovejoy and Wylie, the McKinney North boys basketball team entered Tuesday night with a one-game lead on Royse City, Sherman, and Wylie for second place in District 13-4A.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, the next three opponents on the schedule were a combined 6-21 in district play entering Tuesday, marking an important stretch for the blue and orange if they hope to clinch a playoff berth this season.
Led by a deadly attack from the three-point line, North cruised to an 83-60 home victory over the Greenville Lions to improve to 7-3 in 13-4A and stay three games behind Lovejoy for first place. Greenville fell to 3-7 in district play.
The Bulldogs and Lions traded shots in the first quarter, as North would take a 16-12 lead into the second frame. Bulldogs junior Colin Curran hit two three-pointers in the quarter, part of his 16-point performance on the night. Greenville would have its only leads of the game in the quarter at 7-6 and 12-11.
In the second quarter, junior Kody Wilson began to warm up for the Bulldogs from inside the paint, as he led the team with seven points in the frame. Six of the seven points came from inside the paint, part of the team’s 44 total points scored from inside versus the Greenville defense. Wilson would finish the game with 15 points off the bench.
“Kody has been playing well for us the last three weeks,” said Bulldogs head coach Darryll Craft. “He gives us so much energy inside as well as a three-point threat outside.”
North took a 33-24 advantage into the intermission, when the crowd honored several teachers on hand to celebrate Teachers Appreciation Night. When play resumed the Bulldogs came out firing from beyond the arc, hitting three three-pointers in the first four minutes of the half on their way to a 17-5 run to begin the third quarter.
Greenville couldn’t find its way back in the game after a sustained run by the Bulldogs that made the score 50-29. The Lions didn’t help themselves by missing three of four free throw shots in the final minutes of the quarter. Greenville would shoot 57% from the charity stripe in the game.
After Curran hit his fourth three-pointer of the game to end the third quarter, the Bulldogs led 57-34. Both teams didn’t slow down much on offense in the final quarter, each scoring 26 points in the frame. With the game well in hand backups for each side took the court around the four-minute mark in order to get some playing time.
With five players finishing in double figures in scoring, including four in the starting five, and the team hitting 11 shots from beyond the three-point line, Craft said he was really pleased with his team’s rhythm on offense.
“We got whatever shot we wanted to in rhythm tonight, and when our kids get in rhythm they can shoot it pretty well,” said Craft. “When you look at us we probably don’t pass the eye test, (and) if you look at Greenville definitely do pass, but I think our kids are able to pass and shoot the ball really well.”
Bryson Brown finished with a game-high 17 points for the Bulldogs, while Steele Douglas added 12 and Maliek Golden scored 10.
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Craft said that he was nervous about what kind of performance he might see from his players following the difficult week last week. Not only did the Bulldogs lose two games but they playing without starting guard Julion Pearre, who may be out for the season with an ankle injury.
“You are dealing with young kids, and you lose a player who is pretty important in addition to a two-game losing streak? That tends to make kids start doubting themselves or getting more upset with something they did wrong, so hopefully a win like this can cure some of those things,” said Craft.
Craft said that Pearre would be re-evaluated by a doctor on Wednesday to learn the extent of the injury. Pearre was on the bench without a protective boot on the ankle and told Craft before the game that he wanted to play.
North’s next opponent is Friday night versus Wylie East, which fell to 2-8 in district play with a loss versus Royse City. With the Raiders on Friday and then at Denison next Tuesday night, Craft knows how important the win versus Greenville was to getting back on the winning side of things as district play begins to wind down.
“We talked before the game that this game was important because we were home,” said Craft. “After tonight we play Wylie East who is athletic and can give you fits, and they are probably going to come in here on Friday and play loose and fun. I don’t take anything for advantage in this district, so this game was really important to get us back on the winning side of things and keep us in second place. We have to take care of business.”
North will host Wylie East (2-8) on Friday night, beginning at 8 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Kellie Anfonso. For more photos from this game click here.
District 13-4A Standings:
1. Lovejoy 10-0
2. McKinney North 7-3
3. Royse City 6-4
3. Wylie 6-4
5. Sherman 5-5
6. Greenville 3-7
7. Wylie East 2-8
8. Denison 1-9
Tuesday’s 13-4A Scores:
McKinney North 83
Royse City 44
Wylie East 40
Friday’s 13-4A Games:
Bottom team listed is home. All games begin at 8 p.m.