By BILL PETERSON
Playing well for only about one quarter of their game Friday night, the San Marcos Rattlers earned full credit for a victory, surpassing Elgin, 50-47, in the District 17-4A boys basketball opener for both teams.
“That’s not bad,” San Marcos head coach Rob Shivers said. “We played badly for 30 minutes and decent for two.”
The Rattlers trailed almost all night in the Snake Pit, constantly unable to climb even with Elgin until Jeff Stover scored from the lane 3:15 left to tie the game, 41-41. Stover scored the next two baskets for San Marcos on put backs, keeping his team tied through the stretch.
San Marcos finally took the lead with 27 seconds remaining, when Cameron Austin worked against man-to-man defense to reach the left block, then fanned the ball out against a collapsing defense to the right corner, where Lee Bryant stood open and hit a three-pointer after his defender ran to help on Austin from the weak side.
That 48-45 lead gave the Rattlers a little breathing room on their defensive end, as it forced Elgin to either make a three-pointer or even the game in two possessions. Cro Faulks brought Elgin within 48-47 on two free throws with 15.8 seconds left after the Ratters fouled him inside the arc. Chad Arch sank two free throws for the Rattlers to make it 50-47 with 10.6 seconds left, and Elgin couldn’t pull off a good shot in the waning seconds.
The Rattlers improved to 13-7 overall, securing an important home floor win against an Elgin team that is considered a likely playoff entrant. Elgin is 11-9.
Shivers attributed many of his team’s early troubles to rust. The Rattlers had played one game in the previous six days, while Elgin had played five games in the last eight days, including a championship performance in the Sinton Holiday Tournament earlier this week.
San Marcos struggled offensively for almost all of Friday night’s game, committing turnovers that enabled Elgin to score frequently in transition. The Wildcats held leads of 12-10 after one quarter, 27-23 after two and 38-33 after three.
“For three quarters, they looked like the team that was calm and confident, getting the loose balls,” Shivers said. “In the fourth quarter, we were that team.”
The Ratters also began taking better care of the ball in the fourth period, creating opportunities for Austin and Aaron Canady to penetrate. When the Rattlers missed against Elgin’s collapsing defense, Stover found himself in offensive rebounding position for key baskets.
Next up for the Rattlers is a Tuesday night trip to Hays in the first boys athletic contest of any profile between the rival schools since 2003-04, which is the last year when they were in the same district. Since then, Hays has been unwilling to put San Marcos on the non-district football schedule, interrupting a showdown that had become the most widely anticipated athletic event on the Hays County calendar.
“The last couple years, we played each other early in the (basketball) season, but it was still football season and nobody knew about it, probably, except the parents,” Shivers said. “It hasn’t been that big of a game. It’s exciting to play them in district.”
Austin led the Rattlers Friday night with 13 points, followed by Bryant with 10. Stover scored all six of his points during the Rattlers’ key fourth-quarter stretch. Korey Jones topped Elgin with 13 points, while Derryl Nash added 12.Email | Print