Turning the corner

J’Vante Blanchard keeps the shields the ball from the shot blocker. 

MARBLE FALLS — Turning the corner in a basketball game yields great results. It means the ballhandler has beaten the defense to the spot, ensuring a chance at a layup.

But to Marble Falls High School head boys basketball coach Bruce Etheridge, turning the corner means his players are understanding what he wants them to do.

And they are ensuring themselves some wins.

The Mustangs won their second game in a row, their first winning streak of the season, by beating Wimberley, 77-62 Tuesday.

In the process Marble Falls withstood Wimberley’s 12-0 run and the Mustangs’ five turnovers to begin the game.

“This is a true story,” Etheridge said. “I looked at my coaches and said, ‘We’re fixing to win this game’ at that point.”

That was when David Morgan grabbed the defensive rebound and Bron Etheridge drove to the basket for a layup. And though Wimberley added another bucket and Marble Falls committed another turnover, the Mustangs had indeed turned the corner.

“That’s when we made our run,” the Mustangs skipper said. “We settled down and were doing the things we practiced.” 

Chris Davis’ three-point play, Mason Lyttle’s layup and three-pointer and Morgan’s putback gave the Mustangs a 13-12 lead with 1:51 remaining in the quarter.

The two teams exchanged buckets to close out the period with Shane Minnick scoring the final points to trim the deficit, 16-15.

“I was really proud of our guys’ efforts in coming back,” Etheridge said. “We still had some turnovers here and there. We attacked all night long.”

Morgan scored on a putback to begin the second period. J’Vante Blanchard passed to Davis on the low block to increase the lead, 19-16. Wimberley scored four points, but Blanchard’s layup and Morgan’s layup gave the Mustangs a 23-20 lead. 

The Texans hit two free throws, but Austin Bacon scored from the low block thanks to a pass from Parks. Parks added a free throw and later found Connor Docherty for a three-pointer in the right corner. 

“Connor hit the three and broke their spirits,” Etheridge said. 

Though Wimberley scored on a steal and a layup, Marble Falls took a 29-26 halftime lead. 

The Mustangs enjoyed their most productive period of the contest to begin the second half. 

Bron Etheridge scored two free throws for a 31-26 lead. The Texans would not allow the deficit to be more than three points.

Until the final 2:49. 

After a Wimberley free throw, Lyttle scored for the Mustangs for a 46-40 lead. Morgan added a bucket from the low block. Parks dropped in two free throws on a Wimberley technical foul and Docherty hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession. With less than five seconds remaining, Docherty scored a layup to complete an 11-1 run. 

By the end, Marble Falls outscored Wimberley, 26-14, for a 55-40 lead.   

Both squads matched each other’s points for a 22-22 draw in the final eight minutes. 

Docherty led the Mustangs with 17 points followed by Blanchard’s 16. Etheridge, Morgan and Davis each scored nine points.

“J’Vante has really stepped up,” the coach said. “Right now he’s our best defensive guard at this point. I’m really proud of the way he’s playing. I can’t say enough about J’Vante’s play.”

The coach said he was pleased with Morgan’s rebounding, deflections and steals that gave the Mustangs multiple possessions for the victory. 

Even though the Mustangs needed time to get into the flow of the game, Etheridge said they are working hard to get going quicker. The key, he said, is to continue developing the guards.

“The more skilled ballhandlers, the less you’ll see of the dry periods,” he said. “They occur when we’re not handling pressure.”

But he is enjoying what he is seeing from his squad.

“We’ve turned the corner,” he said. “Early in the season, we would not have overcome a 12-point deficit.” 

Photo by Virgil Belk/Hill Country Sports Images