Dedaunte Scott

Gainesville sophomore Dedaunte Scott shoots a free throw in the Leopards' season opener Tuesday night.

A slow start proved too much to overcome for a young Gainesville squad Tuesday night.

The Leopards basketball team dropped its season opener 50-41 to Nocona in Gainesville despite a spirited comeback effort.

Gainesville (0-1) fell behind quickly. The Indians began the game with an 8-0 run and went on to lead 16-5 after the first quarter.

Nocona (1-0) was not able to keep up its dominant start, but the Indians were able to keep Gainesville at arm’s length and maintain the lead they built.

Gainesville coach Jeffery Wolf said the Leopards’ youth and inexperience contributed to the slow start.

“A lot of first minutes,” Wolf said. “Got a lot of sophomores. Got some juniors that haven’t played varsity before. Only got one senior, so just getting minutes on the court. Nerves got to us a little bit. Hopefully, (those) nerves got out of us, so (we’ll) be a little tougher mentally come the next weeks or so.”

Despite trailing all game, the Leopards fought back and tried to give themselves a chance late. Every time they seemed to be gaining momentum, Nocona responded. Sophomore Dedaunte Scott hit a three-pointer in the fourth quarter, which sophomore Yonas Franklin followed with a two to make it 39-31. Nocona then hit a three.

Scott, junior Elijah Gonzales and junior Isaiah Rodriguez combined for a 6-2 run, but the Indians followed with back-to-back shots. The early deficit was simply too much to overcome.

Wolf said he saw his team grow as the game progressed.

“We put (ourselves) down by 16-5 in the first quarter,” Wolf said. “From there, it was pretty much step for step all the rest of the game. I guess we won the last three quarters if we lost by 9.”

The Leopards didn’t really get into the game until Nocona took a 20-5 lead early in the second quarter. Cason Evans, the lone senior, hit a shot that started a 10-2 Gainesville run. The Indians took a 24-15 lead into halftime, but Gainesville had finally found some momentum.

Evans hit the first shot of the second half, but the Indians came back with a 7-0 run, starting their trend of responding to Gainesville’s comeback efforts.

Wolf said he was proud of the way his team responded to the early deficit.

“I feel like our boys continued to fight,” Wolf said. “We never gave up. We fight from the beginning to end… Not one young man quit on it when they got the lead. They still battled.”

Scott led Gainesville with 13 points. Gonzales and Franklin each had 8, and Evans chipped in with 7.

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