HAMILTON — Everything played out exactly as he intended.
Trailing 46-44 with 10.5 seconds left on the clock, Gatesville head coach Thomas Winkler drew up a play the Hornets practiced numerous times, and it worked to perfection.
Inbounding under his own basket, Gatesville senior Seth Martin passed to teammate Justin Massey before dashing to the corner. He immediately received a return pass, set his feet and elevated.
Moments later, the ball swished through the net, giving the Hornets a 47-44 victory against Whitney in the opening round of the Ted Jones Memorial Tournament.
“We executed the play perfectly,” Winkler said. “I don’t think we’ve run it that good all year. One of our best shooters got a wide-open look, that’s all you can ask for, and he knocked it down.”
The final score marked just the fourth lead of the game for the Hornets, who were never ahead by more than two points.
Gatesville (4-4) trailed for a majority of the first half until Jake Young’s steal lead to a basket in the paint, putting the Hornets ahead 21-20 with seconds remaining. A successful half-court heave at the buzzer erased the advantage, however, and the Wildcats went into halftime leading 23-21.
Whitney led 40-34 early in the fourth quarter, but the Hornets closed the game on a 13-6 run punctuated by Martin’s 3-pointer, giving him nine points. Massey led Gatesville with 13 points, while Andraque Jones added nine.
The victory sets up a second-round game against Salado at 6:30 p.m. today.