As the minutes went by, spectators had to wonder if visiting Gatesville would ever score a point?
The No. 22 Tigers (3-0) led 13-0 before Gatesville hit a three-pointer with three minutes left in the second quarter on the way to a 37-21 Glen Rose win. Although Gatesville drew within two points in the second half, the Tigers only allowed eight points outside of the third quarter.
“(Gatesville) was slowing the game down and very patient, but we were also patient on defense,” said coach Wayne Roberts. “I wanted to play all 10 of our guys, but in a game like this it’s very difficult because their pace was so slow. It was really hard to get in a flow like we wanted.”
Peyton Lytle (11 PT, 6 RB, AST, 3 STL) led the offense, while Ethan Hartman (9 PT, 2 RB, AST) did all of his damage from the outside.
“I think we played good defense,” Hartman said. “(Gatesville) slowed down the ball and took a lot of time off the clock, so we had to hit our shots and execute. I think my shot has improved a lot from last year when I wasn’t shooting with much confidence. I’ve worked hard on it in practice, but I’m kind of surprised at my (three-point) percentage right now.”
Other scorers were Wyatt Goebel (6 PT, 8 RB, 3 AST, 2 STL), Sam Strother (4 PT, 7 RB, AST, 3 STL), Tucker Garza (3 PT, RB, 2 AST), Derek Kramer (2 PT, RB, STL) and D.D. Crawford (2 PT).
In a 6-0 first quarter for Glen Rose, four players had multiple rebounds and all of them had at least one offensive rebound. Lytle scored in transition after a steal, Goebel converted a putback and Strother scored on an inbounds layup via a Garza assist. Strother also took a charge.
“Gatesville really crashes the boards hard, so we knew we’d have to rebound,” Roberts said. “I thought Sam did a great job, and then Wyatt started rebounding. We need to take charges. Sam was much improved from the West game.”
In a 9-5 second quarter, Hartman hit a three after a Lytle steal while Lytle knocked down two midrange jumpers off assists by Hartman and Goebel. Late in the half, Kramer grabbed an offensive rebound and turned it into two made free throws.
“People know that Peyton shoots the three, but he’s also very good at dribbling in and pulling up for the jumpshot,” Roberts said.
Despite a long bankshot from Goebel and a Garza three, Gatesville opened the third quarter on a 13-5 run for a 20-18 ballgame, as the visitors finally found success near the basket.
“They finally found the open spots near the basket,” Roberts said. “They got good position with the high post to seal our guard off and make a good entry pass. We rotated to another defense and shut them down from there.
“Part of their spurt was about us not taking care of the ball, making unforced errors and taking chances. We also had some guards make some bad decisions.”
Gatesville got the ball in a two-point game, but Kramer made a steal that led to Goebel assisting Lytle on a three. Goebel soon grabbed one of his four offensive rebounds to assist Hartman on a three for a 26-18 lead through three.
“Derek did a heck of a job,” Roberts said. “He hit his free throws, and then that steal was a big play that helped us go on a spurt, so I was real proud of him. If Derek doesn’t make that steal, Gatesville was going to shoot to tie or take the lead. We’ve got to have those offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities.”
Hartman buried another three to open the fourth quarter off a Garza assist.
“Ethan shot consistently well from the outside, and we needed that,” Roberts said. “We already knew he could battle inside, so when he’s also hitting the three – those kinds of players are hard to find.”
Lytle hit a long jumper, as he and Strother each had three rebounds down the stretch. In one sequence, Glen Rose had four-straight offensive rebounds ending with a Strother putback.
“That was great to see when we had four-straight offensive rebounds and Sam finished it with the putback,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to have rebounding from our guards (like Lytle).”
Crawford and Goebel each converted layups to finalize the score.
“For three quarters, our defense was excellent,” the coach said. “We just have to work on getting better offensively, and we’ll take it one day at a time. It was a good win, and once we get it all worked out and rolling, I have a lot of confidence in these guys.”
Glen Rose will now hit the road Dec. 4-6 to compete in the Grand Saline Tournament. The Tigers open up against New Diana Dec. 4 at 10:55 a.m. and play again at 7:30 p.m. with a win.
“We’ll need all 10 guys to contribute in the tournament,” Roberts said.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Hartman said of the team’s start. “We’re getting on a roll, and it’s easier to win with momentum, so hopefully that continues.”