Turnovers that led to fast-break points accelerated Rudder to a 50-44 win over College Station in District 19-5A boys basketball action Friday at Cougar Gym.
The Rangers (6-8, 2-2) exploited the Cougars’ low-possession game plan by maintaining high man-to-man pressure throughout the game. The result was quick baskets for Rudder, taking time away from College Station’s side as the Cougars worked through rotations to find a lane to score.
“That was the difference in the game,” College Station head coach JD Sullivan said. “Live ball turnovers turned into layups, and we shoot and we get nobody back on defense.”
Rudder senior Jo Darius Hayward got the offense kickstarted for the Rangers, hitting his first two 3-point attempts. College Station’s Darrell Ellis countered with a 3 of his own in what would become a long-distance battle between the two.
Both finished the game with five 3-pointers, but Ellis edged Hayward for the scoring crown, netting 23 points in the loss. Hayward shot at a better clip from behind the arc (5 of 10) and scored 17 for the Rangers.
Six of Rudder’s 13 second-quarter points came off of College Station turnovers, including four for JJ Bazy. The Rudder senior finished with 15 points.
“When we were patient offensively, we got some good looks at the basket too,” Rudder head coach Mike Carrabine said. “Sometimes we weren’t as patient as I like, but I think our defensive pressure let us get out and get some easy baskets.”
The Cougars (5-8, 0-2) managed to narrow the margin after trailing 28-23 at halftime thanks to a string of offensive rebounds and putbacks. A 6-0 Cougar run in the third quarter closed Rudder’s lead, and the teams opened the fourth quarter tied at 35.
Rudder kicked up the defensive pressure in the fourth, holding College Station to a game-low seven points in the final stanza. Four of Rudder’s 12 points came directly off College Station turnovers. Senior Rudder Jeremiah Johnson helped lead the late charge, scoring six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been really working hard on [defensive pressure] for several weeks here,” Carrabine said. “We think we have pretty decent athletes where we can get out and get to the ball, get to a one-pass situation and make people uncomfortable.”
Both team’s played without key players in Friday’s crosstown matchup. Keithron Lee, who recently committed to play football for Texas, is no longer with the Rudder basketball team, Carrabine said. Three seniors left the College Station team after about the eighth game of the season, according to Sullivan. But the Cougars did add Byron Johnson after the conclusion of the College Station football season.
The roster rollover has created some growing pains for the Cougars.
“We’re adjusting to new roles constantly,” Sullivan said. “We got Byron Johnson right after Christmas from football, and he’s really helped a ton, but it also shifts the roles of the rest of our players, so we’ve been a little out of sync occasionally because of that.”
Rudder 50, College Station 44
RUDDER (7-8, 3-2) — Jo Darius Hayward 17, JJ Bazy 15, Jeremiah Johnson 10, Kevin Holmes 6, Grayson Adams 2.
COLLEGE STATION (6-11, 0-5) — Darrell Ellis Jr. 23, Justin Dixon 6, Ronnie Johnson 5, Nick Nehring 4, Josh Peil 4, Derion Morriel 2.
Rudder 15 13 7 15 — 50
College Station 11 12 12 9 — 44
JV: College Station won 47-32
Next: Rudder hosts Magnolia, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday