GATESVILLE — Thomas Winkler was happy to see his Gatesville Hornets rally in the second half of a 62-56 win against Bangs on Friday afternoon, but he wasn’t exactly impressed.
Primarily because Winkler has seen it before.
So, heading into the final day of the Hornet Holiday Classic today, the second-year coach is hoping to see his team start the way it finished Friday in two wins to open pool play.
“We need to play a whole game,” Winkler said. “First game today (against China Spring), we didn’t play in the first half, played a great second half and won it; kind of the same thing with the second game.”
Gatesville junior Seth Martin said he wasn’t quite sure what was to blame for the slow starts. But Martin did his part to erase the memory of the slow start by scoring 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter when the Hornets led by as many as 10.
“It just seems like every game that we come out, we start off slow,” Martin said. “It feels like we have to get behind to get the intensity to go out there and go hard.”
After defeating China Spring on Friday morning, the Hornets (9-5) started off slowly again as visiting Bangs controlled most of the first half thanks to an 8-0 run that began early in the second quarter.
With his team down 32-29 at the half, Winkler said he gave his team a halftime speech with the same talking points as the one he gave earlier in the day.
“It was kind of what we talked about in the first game, just change the pace of the game,” Winkler said. “I wanted more pressure on the defensive end, and I wanted to put pressure on their defense by attacking the bucket.”
Gatesville did just that, forcing 11 Bangs turnovers in the second half and going to the free throw line 17 times in the frame.
After a seesaw third quarter, the turning point of the game came when Martin hit a layup while being fouled, a mistake Bangs compounded by receiving a technical foul shortly after.
Martin then hit two of three free throws to turn a tie game into a 49-45 Hornet lead, which Gatesville never relinquished.
“When you’re getting momentum like that, it just builds up for the whole team and once that happens it feels like we get going,” Martin said.
After going 2-0 in pool play to start the Classic, Gatesville will face Waelda at 10:30 a.m. today for a spot in the tournament championship at 3:30 p.m. today.
And Winkler will be looking for his team to start just as strong as it finished Friday in hopes of reaching the championship game for the second consecutive year.
“We’ve got to start off better,” Winkler said. “If we can put four quarters together, I think we can be an effective team.”