The Dickinson Gators avenged a loss last year in their rivalry game with the Texas City Stings, pulling away after a competitive first quarter for an 80-53 win Tuesday at home.

“We’re very short-handed, just really trying to string together some wins, string together some execution on both ends for 32 minutes — that’s the most important thing for us right now,” Dickinson head coach Jason Wilson said. “We have a lot of young talent, and they play good stretches, but they don’t play good entire games. So that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

Down a couple key players, Gators guard Tramon Mark carried the team early on with 23 first-half points, and finished with a double-double with 32 points and 10 rebounds.

“When he gets in those types of modes, you just kind of have to let him go and make sure we continue to bring energy defensively while we’re making shots,” Wilson said.

A rebound and coast-to-coast layup by Jacolby Belle gave Texas City a 6-4 lead at the 5:14 mark of the first quarter, but after a 3-point play the old-fashioned way by Mark, Dickinson took an 8-6 lead. Then, an offensive rebound, put-back while being fouled and converted free throw by Kian Fisher gave the Stings an 8-10 lead.

The back-and-forth action continued as Dickinson went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-10 lead, before a 6-0 run by Texas City knotted the score back up, 16-16, early in the second quarter.

An emphatic dunk off of a turnover by Mark gave Dickinson a 28-20 lead midway through the second quarter. Mark dished to guard Deuce Guidry for a double-digit 33-23 lead with 1:38 remaining in the first half, and two more 2-pointers from Mark gave the Gators a 37-25 advantage at the halftime break.

“I thought they set the tone, they did exactly what they wanted to do,” Texas City head coach Chris Mason, whose team is also missing several key pieces due to the football team’s ongoing playoff run, said. “They forced us into turnovers out front, they made us play faster than what we wanted to, and once my bigs got into early foul trouble, that kind of threw everything off a little bit.”

The Stings also couldn’t help their own cause at the charity stripe, going just 3-for-12 at the free throw line in the second quarter, and gave the Gators too many second-chance shots as they began to pull away in the game.

After a stop-and-pop 2-pointer by Mark gave Dickinson a 47-30 lead at the 5:02 mark of the third quarter, Texas City tried to keep things close with the 3-ball, as Anthony Davis and Caden McKenzie each cashed in from beyond the arc to get the Gators’ lead down to 49-36.

But an 8-2 run, highlighted by nice assists from Mark and Guidry saw Dickinson’s lead balloon to 20 points with 2:01 left in the third quarter. A buzzer-beating layup by guard Ronny Nguyen saw the third quarter end with Dickinson on top, 65-45.

“It’s a game of runs, and when they hit two or three shots in a row, it’s hard to come back from,” Mason said.

As the game winded down in the fourth quarter, the Dickinson crowd and bench got excited for some crossover moves by Nguyen and a lob-and-layup connection from Nguyen to Rodric Artmore, and then erupted after a thunderous dunk by freshman wing Antonio Reynolds.

The Gators ended the game on a 10-3 run over the contest’s final five minutes.

Aside from Mark’s huge game, the Gators got solid performances out of Guidry (11 points, five rebounds), Byron Staten (seven points, 10 rebounds) and Kelvin Walker (eight points).

A balanced effort for the Stings was led by Fisher (12 points), Davis (11 points, eight rebounds) and Jacoree Evans (eight points, six rebounds).

Dickinson won the turnover battle, 17-11, including committing just two turnovers to Texas City’s eight in the second half. The Gators were also markedly better at the free throw line, going 13-for-16 compared to 15-for-28 for the Stings.

Dickinson will be right back in action 4 p.m. today against Houston Episcopal at the Hoops Giving Classic at Houston Christian. Texas City is also back on the court today with a 2 p.m. game at La Porte.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

Sports Editor

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