Marble Falls High School senior post Melvin Sanchez (left) challenges Leander Rouse senior guard Jaylen Johnson in the lane as Marble Falls senior guard James Ramos assists during the Mustangs’ 54-35 loss Dec. 4. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School boys basketball team finished its Subway Classic tournament Dec. 6 with many positives, even though the Mustangs (0-9) are still searching for a win.
The Mustangs lost 54-35 to Leander Rouse on Dec. 4 in its best game of the season, though the score might not indicate it.
“Rouse is really, really good,” Marble Falls head coach Paul Gammage said. “I was really happy with how well we played.”
The Mustangs finished with losses to Austin Hyde Park (49-42), Denton Guyer (71-34), Killeen High (65-45) and San Antonio Edison (71-56).
“Most of the teams we play are at a different level,” Gammage said. “We looked good during different stretches.”
Marble Falls senior guard D’Anthony Wall started in the game against Rouse because Gammage wanted more energy on the floor.
“He brought it,” the coach said. “I think he was hustling more than anyone on the court. He was a blossom of energy.”
The Mustangs led 13-12 in the first quarter because they simply made plays that ended with hitting shots. What also impressed Gammage was that Marble Falls didn’t flinch when the Raiders hit three 3-pointers in a row.
“I told our players they’re going to make shots, but they’re not going to make them all,” he said.
Then, the Raiders took advantage of Marble Falls miscues and cold shooting to build a six-point lead.
The Mustangs stayed close in the third quarter, but the cold shooting continued. Finally, Rouse’s depth took over.
One area Gammage wants to see improvement is first-quarter starts. He said it’s difficult to come back when playing from behind. Rouse was the exception. In addition, he wants to see the Mustangs finish their full-court press breakers with more baskets.
“It’s a work of art,” he said.
One of the goals was to develop a player rotation that works, the coach said. Up until the week prior to the tournament, not every Mustang was available. Gammage said he realizes there are times the Mustangs have four guards and a post, which allows opponents, who have taller posts to take advantage of rebounding.
So the solution is to force opponents to shoot from farther away to utilize the guards’ quickness to the ball.
“We’re going to get out-rebounded because guys can jump three feet higher than we can,” Gammage said. “We will be looking for every rebounding drill and every possible way to motivate kids.”
Still, the coach saw many positives not reflected on the scoreboard that demonstrate the Mustangs are becoming the team he envisions.
“We played the way we needed to,” Gammage said. “When they scored, we came down and answered. We took care of the ball, and they were chasing us. In the first half, we had a rebounding advantage. That was the real difference. If we can take care of the ball like that and play with defensive intensity, we’ll have the opportunity to be in a lot of games with a lot of people.”
ALL-TOURNAMENT SELECTION: D’Anthony Wall
AGAINST ROUSE:Points (Rouse) – Jaylen Johnson 7, Dante Price 4, Kyle Mitchell 5, Tre’Sean Artis 4, Sam Paulsen 12, Jacob Alger 10, Curry Flowers 4, Gavin Sharp 2, Will Noble 6; (Marble Falls) – Travis Walker 13, D’Anthony Wall 3, James Ramos 3, O’Ryan Ficklin 3, Freddy Mata 3, Emmanuel Montoya 3, Melvin Sanchez 6, Cade Cool 1
AGAINST HYDE PARK:Points (Hyde Park) – Drew Aldridge 1, Jon Matthews 7, Matthew Espinosa 2, Cooper Goen 4, Tyler Hull 1, Tim Turner 10, Luke Nelson 8, Grant Baker 16; (Marble Falls) – Wall 3, Ramos 10, Hooten 3, Ficklin 13, Walker 6, Montoya 3, Sanchez 2. KEY STAT was free throws – Hyde Park was 28-36, while Marble Falls was 4-8.
AGAINST GUYER: Points (Marble Falls) – Wall 3, Ramos 3, Hooten 2, Ficklin 4, Mata 5, Cooper Lawson 2, Walker 1, Montoya 5, Sanchez 4, Drake Harkins 2, Cade Cool 3; (Guyer) – Sean Choate 25