The Glen Rose Tigers were much bigger and more athletic than visiting Hamilton, and as Tuesday night’s game wore on that advantage loomed large in a 56-46 win.
The Tigers (4-3) won the first and third quarters by a combined margin of 28-14.
“When shots weren’t falling it was really ugly out there; we had good looks,” said coach Wayne Roberts. “We had to get the ball inside, play good half-court defense and we controlled the game after that.”
This win was keyed by very impressive performances from Colton Bretton (20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals) and Ben Coppock (16 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals).
“It’s rare to see those guys have such big games on the same night,” Roberts said. “Ben is going to score, and with Colton scoring like that we have some threats. We just have to sharpen up our overall offense.”
Coppock wasn’t necessarily thrilled with his play, but the senior recognized that his production combined with Bretton’s was noteworthy.
“It’s great for (Colton and I) to work together as a duo and do well,” Coppock said. “I like to think we can be like Colton and (Justin) Weatherley were in football, but in basketball now.”
Though Glen Rose led 25-21 at halftime, Coppock was looking for more.
“There in the first half we weren’t using our height and athleticism, but in the second half we got it together and took control,” Coppock said.
Coming off an injury to play in his first game of the season, Cody Burtscher (10 points, rebound, assist, 2 steals) made a nice contribution. He was limited to three minutes per quarter.
“Cody is a scorer, plus he’s such a great defensive player,” Roberts said. “He’ll make some things happen and he’s a hard worker to be able to catch up on the time he was out.”
Other scorers were Jeffery Harris (4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals), Hayden Bach (3 points, 4 assists, 3 steals), Hayden Holder (2 points, 2 rebounds, assist) and Justin Potter (1 point).
“Jeffery came through for us and played physical,” Coppock said.
Bach was particularly generous early in the fourth quarter with three assists.
“Hayden made some great passes (Tuesday), and we have to have a good team effort to get where we want to be,” Roberts said.
Although Hamilton scored five points early in the first quarter, the Tigers played solid defense to lead 12-7 after one. Bretton immediately began to produce around the hoop to score six and grab three rebounds. Coppock had four rebounds in the first, while Burtscher got his season started off right with a three-pointer and a putback.
“Cody was one of our top deep shooters last year and he hit the only three we had (Tuesday), so it’s good to have him for the remainder of the season,” Coppock said.
Roberts hopes there will be many nights were Bretton is on a roll like he enjoyed against Hamilton.
“Colton was battling the boards and he has a nice touch from 15 feet (and in) to be able to score often,” Roberts said. “We’ll take the output he had (Tuesday) any night.”
In the second quarter, Hamilton hit a trio of threes and won the frame 14-13. Coppock (5) and Bretton combined for nine rebounds with three putbacks. Late in the half, Bretton made a steal and then hit both of the ensuing free throws.
“We want to press, but we still have some work to do there,” Roberts said. “When we did get steals we weren’t converting them into points often enough.”
The Tigers regained their defensive form to win the third quarter 16-7. Coppock and Burtscher combined to make all four of Glen Rose’s free throws in the quarter. Coppock had a tremendous quarter overall with 10 points, including three midrange jumpers, while Burtscher hit a runner in the lane to help Glen Rose take a 41-30 lead to the fourth.
“In the second half, I got my act together and shots started falling,” Coppock said.
Roberts appreciated Coppock’s efforts, and that of the defense.
“Ben started slow, but Coach (Erik) Hartman talked to him and he responded,” Roberts said. “He’s an excellent athlete and he was having a lot of success with the short bankshot. We wanted to go inside on offense coming out of the half. On defense, we didn’t think they could score (consistently) in a half-court set.”
Hamilton did regain its footing offensively to win the fourth 16-15, but down the stretch a bevy of different Tigers played with the result not in question. Bretton hauled in three more boards, as Bach assisted him (twice) and Harris on layups.
“Jeffrey did a better job of keeping the ball up high when he got rebounds and tried to go up strong,” Roberts said. “He did well.”
Holder made both of his free throws when he got a trip to the line and also assisted Bach on a transition hoop before a Potter free throw accounted for the last Glen Rose point.
“(Hamilton) got some baskets at the end, but we didn’t press a lot in this game and did make a lot of substitutions, so I really wanted to get different guys in the game late,” Roberts said. “I’d like to get our bench players more minutes, and we’ll work on trying to set our rotation. When next week gets here and we get a lot more practice in, it will really help the players who joined us after football.”
The Tigers open their Luminant/Glen Rose Lions Club Tournament on Thursday in Tiger Arena at 2:20 p.m. against Early.
“Early has a really good team,” Roberts said. “We’ll have our hands full; we need to play a complete game.”
Coppock wants to see his team take a big step forward this week.
“We need to improve in all aspects of the game for the tournament and defend our home court,” the senior said.