The A&M Consolidated Tigers got good guard play.
They didn’t get big guard play.
Bryan took advantage inside by posting its taller and stronger guards, and that set the tone for the Vikings’ 64-42 victory in the Crosstown Showdown on Friday at Viking Gym.
“We were just trying to create mismatches and take advantage of them,” Bryan coach Chris Jones said. “We struggled early but got it going, got the defense going, and really rebounded the ball well.”
The win kept Bryan (10-7) unbeaten in District 14-5A at 3-0, tied with The Woodlands for the early league lead. The Woodlands edged out Lufkin 41-37 on Friday. The Tigers fell to 1-2 and 6-14.
“It seemed like every other possession, one of my [5-foot-7 players] was having to guard a post,” Consol coach Rick German said. “We’ve got to correct that. We can’t change our entire defense because we’re not making adjustments on the floor. That’s one of those things where inexperience rears its ugly head.”
Bryan got a total of five three-point play opportunities with its inside play. Four of those came in the first half when Bryan took change. The Vikings played defense well enough to comfortably hold the short-handed Tigers (6-14, 1-2) at bay.
Bryan surged in the final minute of the first half to build a 32-17 lead. Eric Bazy hit a leaner on an inbound under the Tigers’ basket and was fouled. Bazy completed the three-point play with 55 second left. Twenty-two seconds later, Darius Ross drove the lane and drew a foul, but missed the free throw. Bryan countered a pair of free throws from Consol’s Trey Pulliam when Quaylon Newton backed in and scored with 11 seconds left.
“We started two freshmen [Tre Flowers and Layton Dimery] and a sophomore [Pulliam],” German said. “I know Chris has got some young kids who are having to play a lot of minutes as well, but he’s got two really good players that help him a lot on the floor. I’m having to rely on some young guys to be that type of player. Sometimes they get it accomplished. Sometimes they don’t.”
Pulliam (12 points) and Derrick Dick (10) kept the Tigers in position to rally, but it never came. Only once in the second half did the Tigers hit consecutive buckets, but it was a good stretch for them in the third period. Pulliam hit a 3-pointer and Dick dropped in a high-lofted shot on the run and drew a foul. His three-point play cut the lead to 40-27 with 3:04 left in the third period. It never got closer.
Bryan’s A.J. Lawson, who scored 13, hit a hook shot and Newton dunked, thanks to a terrific hustling play by Ross, who tracked down a backcourt inbound for a steal. He then spun and rifled a pass to the quick-arriving Newton, who finished powerfully.
“That’s what we have been talking about all week, just playing level, getting to a high level and staying there,” Jones said. “I think we did that defensively and intensity-wise. The kids did a good job rebounding and limiting their second shots, and whenever you do that, you’re going to be successful.”
The Tigers scored the first four points of the game on Pulliam’s pull-up and a follow shot by Ryan Stavinoha, but the Vikings scored the next 11 and never lost the lead.
Ross started the run when the 5-10 junior point guard posted up, scored and finished off a three-point play, but Newton concluded it with a slam after a Viking steal.
The Vikings punctuated their attack with an occasional spectacular play from Newton, who led the way with 20 points, one of four Viking scorers in double figures. Brothers B.J. and Darius Ross combined for 23. B.J. had Bryan’s only two 3-pointers and scored 12.