The Shoemaker Grey Wolves built up their Thanksgiving appetite Wednesday by running circles around a bigger San Angelo Central team for 32 minutes.
“We wasn’t worried about their height. Height ain’t no intimidation to us; it was all about heart,” said Shoemaker junior forward Shane Johnson, who led all scorers with 19 points.
“I think we beat them with hard defense and going fast on offense,” he added.
The Grey Wolves limited the Bobcats to three field goals in the first quarter and outscored the Bobcats 13-5 in the final four minutes of the period en route to their 68-28 rout in the teams’ final game before the Thanksgiving break.
Paris Yerry added 15 points and Torenzo Saunders chipped in nine for the Grey Wolves (3-0), who led 39-10 at halftime and won their second game in as many days following their 69-66 overtime win at 4A No. 12 Waco University on Tuesday.
“What I was proud about tonight is when we came out in the second half, our effort was there from our starters, and our effort was also there in the second half even when we had a decent lead,” said Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea. “Last night, we took the floor with the lead at the half and got out-played. It felt good to see us not play to the scoreboard and just play hard for 32 minutes.”
The Bobcats (2-2) certainly passed the eye test in warm-ups. Central started four players that were at least six feet tall, including 6-7 post Brock Borger. Saunders, at 6-4, is Shoemaker’s tallest player.
“Almost every team we play is going to be taller than us. But, we think we have a quickness advantage over most of the teams we’re going to play,” Minatrea said. “We have to be a lot better in the picking up 94 feet and pressuring the ball; we’ve got to be a full-court defensive team to be successful and cause some turnovers to probably neutralize our lack of height in the lane.”
Neither team was especially smooth offensively against the other team’s full-court defense, but Shoemaker made its full-court man-to-man defense and 43-30 rebounding advantage work better with its transition offense. Johnson, Yerry and Saunders each had six rebounds and 5-9 guard Renard Thomas had four steals.
“The game was so up and down because they pressed the whole game and we were picking up full-court man the whole game,” Minatrea said. “There’s times where it’s going to be sloppy on both sides. We’re just trying to keep the ball in front of us and help on defense.
Borger, who finished with just three points, gave the Bobcats their only lead, 2-0, on a pull-up with 6:37 left in the first, but the Grey Wolves scored eight unanswered to take the lead for good.
Justin Saddler, who led the Bobcats with seven points, cut the lead to 8-4 with his field goal with 3:57 left in the period, but Shoemaker put the game away with a 13-0 run before Central’s Jacob Rangel hit a 3-pointer to cut the Shoemaker lead to 21-7 after the first quarter.
The Bobcats scored back-to-back 3s two minutes into the second to cut the lead to 29-14, but the Grey Wolves put the game away with an 11-3 run in the final five minutes of the first half to take a 39-17 lead into the locker room.
Central had just five field goals in the second half, struggling against the Grey Wolves’ aggressive defense regardless of whether they were being attacked by Shoemaker’s starters or reserves. The Bobcats committed 25 turnovers in their second straight loss.
“We get a couple days off for Thanksgiving,” Minatrea said. “So, hopefully, if it gets colder, I can make some polenta with some anchovy sauce and get back to my Italian roots during the holidays.”