The College Station boys basketball team held Navasota to single-digit points in every quarter as a stout defensive effort carried the Cougars to a 51-24 victory on Tuesday night at Cougar Gym.
The Rattlers (0-1) did enough to slow down College Station (2-3) at times in their season opener, generating 22 turnovers as the Cougars worked through some new player rotations.
But College Station forced 16 turnovers and dominated the boards 42-17 to keep Navasota down and overcome slow shooting stretches.
“I know [the Rattlers] didn’t have their legs under them just yet coming out of football and Thanksgiving — they haven’t had a lot of practices,” College Station coach JD Sullivan said. “We wanted to make sure we tightened down and not allow a lot of penetration and make them beat us from the outside. Our focus was good, especially defensively.”
Navasota opened the game with a layup by La’Darrin Thomas to take the early lead, but a basket by AJ Salwen sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Cougars the lead for good. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Owen North later in the quarter helped College Station extend its advantage to 14-5 going into the second quarter.
It was all Cougars from there.
Treztan Garcia opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup for a 19-5 lead with 6:36 left in the half. After a bucket by Navasota’s Keith Steptoe, Jaden Hall pieced together a one-man 7-0 run that stretched the Cougars’ lead to 26-7.
Though the Rattlers ended the drought on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Cash Douglas before halftime, it did little to give Navasota any momentum going into the second half.
Salwen and Hall combined for two baskets apiece in the first three minutes of the third quarter, and College Station extended its advantage to 34-10.
The Rattlers briefly rallied on a basket by Tavarus Baker and a steal and a layup by Thomas, but Navasota never challenged for the lead the rest of the way.
Even as College Station lost nine turnovers and went more than seven minutes between baskets at one point in the fourth quarter, the Rattlers couldn’t hit the shots to make a run.
“If you’re not careful and protective of the ball with those guys, they’re just going to take it away from you,” Sullivan said. “We made some bad passes and bad decisions as well, but more than anything, where they got the easy layups, we just weren’t careful with the ball. They’re going to be a really good team and really hard to beat. They just haven’t had enough practices yet.”
Hall led the Cougars with 14 points, while North finished with 13. Salwen and Garcia each scored 10.
Navasota made just nine field goals and went 5-of-19 from the free-throw line as Ziyon Minor led the way with five points.
College Station ended a three-game skid with the win and will look for further improvement when it travels to the Midlothian Heritage Hoopfest later this week. The Cougars open Thursday against Seagoville and Denton Braswell.
“We will likely see multiple defenses, which is going to help us in the long run,” Sullivan said. “Every game will be a challenge. We’re going to have to be focused. We’re going to have to have great effort, and we’re going to have to control what we can control to give ourselves a chance to beat them. But we know that by Saturday we’re going to have 10 games in instead of five, and hopefully we’ll make a lot of strides toward where we want to be.”
Navasota opens the Franklin Invitational on Thursday against Snook.
College Station 51, Navasota 24
(Numbers after names indicate field goals made, free throws attempted-made, points.)
NAVASOTA (0-1) — La’Darrin Thomas 1 0-0 2, Tavarus Baker 2 0-0 4, Cash Douglas 1 1-4 4, Aaron Nichols 1 1-3 3, DG Henderson 1 0-0 2, Ziyon Minor 2 1-4 5, Ja’Mar Jessie 0 0-6 0, Keith Steptoe 1 0-0 2, Ja’Eric Beasley 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 9 5-19 24.
COLLEGE STATION (2-3) — Owen North 4 3-3 13, AJ Salwen 5 0-0 10, Treztan Garcia 4 0-0 10, Jaden Hall 5 3-3 14, Nick Panin 1 2-3 4. TOTALS: 19 8-9 51.
Navasota 5 5 9 5 — 24
College Station 14 12 17 8 — 51
Rebounds: Navasota 17 (Baker 3), College Station 42 (Panin 9, Garcia 8, Hall 6).
Turnovers: Navasota 16, College Station 22.
JV: College Station 43-39