The Whitesboro Bearcats exploded on offense in the first half, jumping out to a 24-10 lead in the first quarter before boosting their lead to 43-23 at halftime on the way to a 78-68 win Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Whitesboro High School.
The Bearcats’ football team was recently eliminated from the playoffs, so Tuesday’s basketball game was several players’ first opportunity to hit the hardwood.
Gainesville made a run in the second half and cut the lead down to 10 points at one juncture, but the Bearcats held the Leopards off.
Whitesboro head coach Toby Sluder said it was important to get those football players up and running.
“It was the first game for about four or five of those guys and I wanted to get them quite a bit of playing time, but I wanted the younger guys to finish the game out,” Sluder said. “For their first game, I thought it was pretty good. The defense has to get a lot better. Gainesville was a very athletic team that made some big shots late and ran a pretty good press.”
Whitesboro’s Montana Morgan led the team in scoring with 24 points while Tryston Gaines had 17 points.
“Tryston is a very athletic kid and still has to knock some rust off,” Sluder said. “He’s still used to catching the football, but he’ll come around. Morgan has been with me all year and he’s gotten a lot better. If we can step up, find some more role players and give us good minutes off the bench, then I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Torran Naglestad added eight points while Carson Hickman also had eight points. Cade Acker had six points.
For Gainesville, Cason Evans led the Leopards in scoring with 20 points while Amari Melton was right behind him with 19 points. Robyn Hardin added 10 and Noah Ridge tacked on seven more. Traylen Shinault had six points. Isaiah Gipson and Gavin Terrell added two points each.
“We have some depth and they played hard,” Gainesville head coach Jeff Wolf said. “It’s still early in the season. We are just trying to build. Whitesboro is a really good team and top 25 team in the state. I wanted to take advantage of our athleticism. We need to attack the basket a little better.”
Wolf said the Leopards, now 1-2 on the season, got better as the game went on and began to trust the system and find their teammates more.
“We have to continue to improve defensively,” Wolf said. “Whitesboro has a lot of experience and has a good program. We’re building our program, so we just have to be patient as a group.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip