After a tough loss in its opener of the Van Tournament, Glen Rose got back to the business of winning on Friday afternoon with a 55-38 win over Rusk.

The Tigers (2-3) won the first and third quarters by a combined margin of 27-3.

“We played a lot better (vs. Rusk), especially defensively,” said coach Wayne Roberts. “We started pressing and caused a lot of turnovers to create better scoring chances. We still aren’t taking care of the basketball like we want, which has to improve.”

The Tigers actually took a 15-0 lead in the first quarter and Rusk managed to hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

“That was a good start, then they ended up having a 14-0 run in the second quarter, as some mistakes in our press led to easy baskets for them,” Roberts said.

After Rusk played its best to take the second quarter 21-13, the Tigers came roaring back to win the third 12-0.

“I told the guys if we’d just take care of the ball we could score off of our press and we did that,” Roberts said.

Ben Coppock approached his career-high with 23 points in the win.

“Ben had an opportunity to score even more than he did,” the coach said. “He got in a rhythm and also battled the boards to get some putbacks.”

Other key scorers were Colton Bretton (12), Jeffery Harris (7) and Stetson Overton (6). The Tigers also had Hayden Bach (3), Hayden Holder (2) and Justin Weatherley (2) get on the scoreboard.

“Ben had some great assists feeding Colton,” Roberts said. “Colton made some passes back out that led to some threes. Part of the problem (Thursday) was we couldn’t get Colton the ball because we kept turning it over. He only had a couple of touches (against North Lamar) and he’s a big part of our offense.

“Jeffrey is learning to relax as he gains more experience. He played better (Friday).”

The coach credited his team’s press, as well as improved free throw shooting.

“I think Hayden (Holder) did a great job off the bench,” Roberts said. “Colton did a great job at the back of our press. Holder, Stetson and Curry (Mapes) each did a good job at the front of our full-court defense to create some havoc.

“We shot better at the free throw line in this game, especially Ben going 8-11. I think we were 13-20 for the game, so we can still improve because I want us to get up around 75 percent.”

 Glen Rose 45

Liberty Eylau 56

In Friday’s late contest, Glen Rose won the fourth quarter 12-8 and played close in two others, but a rough second quarter (8-19) ended up being the difference.

“They were very athletic – definitely the most athletic team we’ve faced so far,” said Roberts. “They did some things well, and I think they are better than (Thursday opponent Paris) North Lamar, but the difference in the games was that we handled their pressure a lot better.”

Roberts discussed the difficulty of the second quarter.

“We had a bad second quarter where we scored eight points, but we settled down, finally started moving the ball and got better shots in the second half to give ourselves a chance,” he said. “Turnovers and missed shots were the problem in the second; I’m only concerned with the turnovers. We had some less experienced kids in there late in the first half and Liberty Eylau put a run together.”

Roberts was pleased with his team’s finish.

“Liberty Eylau tried to slow the game down in the fourth, and on four of their eight points I credit to an officiating mistake,” he said. “Our defense was actually excellent in the fourth.”

Ben Coppock led the team in scoring once again with 21 points. Other scorers included Stetson Overton (8), Colton Bretton (6), Curry Mapes (5), Justin Weatherley (2), Jeffery Harris (2) and Hayden Holder (2).

“Ben is our go-to guy, and it’s good to have one of them,” Roberts said. “Liberty Eylau figured that out, so they face-guarded him in the second half. He still scored eight points after halftime, and when they overplayed he did the right thing with backdoor cuts and good passes. Stetson hit a couple of threes, but I need him to be a little more aggressive offensively.”

Roberts said the injury bug is biting with Coppock hurting, John Henry Powell unable to play and Hayden Holder spraining his ankle.

The Tigers will conclude tournament play on Saturday at 2:55 p.m.

“We didn’t win, but we benefitted from this game,” Roberts said. “It will be a tough game on Saturday. We’ll do the best we can and then rest up for the coming week.”