Torenzo Saunders doesn’t mind when he doesn’t get the ball while posting up on offense.
But when he does, the 6-foot-4 Shoemaker sophomore makes it memorable.
Saunders dunked the ball four times, three in the fourth quarter alone, on his way to 19 points and added four rebounds in a 74-64 Grey Wolves’ victory over the visiting Copperas Cove Bulldawgs in a District 8-5A contest Friday night.
“I wasn’t playing as well as I could — so I brought the intensity,” said Saunders. “They finally sent me the ball down low and I went up strong and finished.”
Each finish brought the near-packed Shoemaker gym to its collective feet. With a 44-33 lead early in the fourth, Shoemaker guards fed Saunders in the post and the big man ate — a lot. He had back-to-back dunks sandwiched around a Bulldawgs 3-pointer to put the Grey Wolves (20-7, 5-2 8-5A) up 48-36. After trailing most of the game, Cove (14-10, 2-5) managed to pull within five points at 62-57, but it got no closer.
“All 5-2 assures us is that we can finish 5-9 at the end of the year,” Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea said. “Our focus is on Killeen next Tuesday because in this league anyone can beat anyone on any given night — we have to stay focused.”
Junior Shane Johnson had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Renard Thomas added 14 for the Grey Wolves.
However, it looked like the Bulldawgs’ night after the first quarter.
With time expiring in the first quarter, Cove guard Montre’ Fennell-Williams dribbled to his right and drove to the basket for an easy layup that gave the Dawgs a 13-7 lead as the clock expired.
It was the last Cove basket for the next 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, Shoemaker found its groove and outscored the Dawgs 26-8 during the stretch. Shoemaker didn’t allow any easy shots at the basket and Cove struggled to overcome the Wolves’ suffocating defense.
“This team’s best strength is its defense — we have trouble scoring at times,” Minatrea said. “We knew we couldn’t stop (Rashard) Odomes and (Cory) Scott all night — but to slow them down for about two quarters allowed us to get a big lead.”
Dawgs coach Billy White Jr. added: “That second quarter was huge because we couldn’t score and they went on that run and anytime that happens it’s hard to overcome — that was the difference in the game.”
The Wolves routinely led by double-digits until the fourth quarter.
That’s when Scott went wild.
He scored 21 of his 32 points in the quarter and pulled Cove to within five before the comeback collapsed.
Scott hit 4-of-5 of his 3-point attempts and 6-of-9 from the free throw line in the quarter.
“Once we adjusted offensively and defensively to how physical the game was going to be, we got into a rhythm,” White said. “We have five games at home in the second half so we still have hope for the playoffs.”
The Wolves travel to Killeen on Tuesday while Cove welcomes Midway.