In their latest tough non-district test at home Friday night, the La Marque Cougars showed some cracks in their discipline and shot selection patience in the second half en route to a 60-53 defeat at the hands of the Bellaire Episcopal Knights.
“We played good defensively, kept the score low, but, in the end, it’s all about discipline and sticking to the game plan,” head coach Kevin Wilcox said. “We came out of halftime and rushed our shots. We took one pass, shot, one pass, shot. Then, next thing you know, they’re up, and now we’ve got a ball game.”
But, by taking on several larger schools and high quality non-district opponents, Wilcox hopes the experience will make the team stronger and more prepared for district play and the postseason.
“If we’re going to beat good teams, we’ve got to have more patience,” Wilcox said. “But my team, they’re fighters, though. We will fight back.”
La Marque led by as much as 25-18 in the first half, and a 3-pointer from Ray McChristian gave the Coogs a 32-26 lead at the 5:21 mark of the third quarter. But, after that, Episcopal made a run to swing momentum in its favor, scoring 14 unanswered points. D.J. Edgar converted an and-1 to kickstart the run, and later a triple from D’A Houston gave the Knights their first lead, at 33-32, since ending the first quarter ahead, 11-9.
The Cougars answered back, though, with a 10-2 run to knot things back up at 42-42. Christopher Rondeau scored back-to-back buckets in the paint during the run, and Edward Robinson capped it off with a 3-pointer. A buzzer-beating triple knocked down by Edgar gave the Knights a 47-44 lead at the end of the third period.
Then, Jackson Cokinos started the fourth quarter by sinking a 3-ball, and Jordan Wells hit a 2-pointer to balloon Episcopal’s lead back to eight points. An offensive rebound and put-back basket from McChristian cut the Knights’ lead down to 52-48 with 5 minutes left to play, but that’s as close as La Marque would get in the fourth quarter.
After each team started a little bit slow in a tight first quarter, La Marque began the second quarter on an 8-0 run for the first momentum shift of the game. A steal and coast-to-coast layup by Jordan Ivy-Curry got the rally started, and Robinson and McChristian each knocked down a 3-pointer after that.
Episcopal had significantly more chances from the free throw line in the game, shooting 14-for-24 at the charity stripe compared to 8 of 11 shooting for La Marque. The Knights had the slight edge in total rebounds (34-27), while the Coogs forced more turnovers on defense (18-15).
Robinson led La Marque in scoring with 20 points, while McChristian and Ivy-Curry each had 11 points. McChristian also had five rebounds and four blocks. Rondeau chipped in nine points (all in the third quarter), and the Cougars’ other two points came from Rha’Sean Booker. Willie Johns grabbed a team-best six rebounds, and La Marque had 10 different players with at least one board.
Episcopal was led by Houston with 14 points and six rebounds, D.J. Nussbaum and Jaylen Davis with nine points each, and Adam Kanafani with eight points and 14 rebounds.
Up next, La Marque travels to Van Vleck for a 7 p.m. game Tuesday before starting district play 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sweeny.