HILLSBORO — The Shoemaker Grey Wolves knew what they were getting playing against a Tim Thomas-coached defense.
But, in real speed, it took the better part of the first half for them to get adjusted.
Shoemaker turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and Cedar Hill thwarted the Grey Wolves’ second-half rally for a 42-38 win in a Region I-5A bi-district playoff game Tuesday at Hillsboro High School.
Cedar Hill (21-9) led by as many as 14 points in the first half as the Grey Wolves could get nothing going offensively against the Longhorns’ up-close-and-personal defense, which might have seemed familiar to Shoemaker fans.
Thomas was named the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 5A Coach of the year in 2010 after he led the Temple Wildcats to the Region II tournament final and a 29-7 record overall.
“They do everything well: they pressure the ball well, they keep in front of you, they help well from one pass away, they deny,” said Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea. “Their defense, just being in such correct position and being taught so well, and their kids being so coachable and have their kids carry it out, it was almost flawless.”
But, finally settling down late in the first half, Shoemaker (26-9) closed the gap to eight at halftime, seven at the end of the third and tied the game at 32 on Renard Thomas’ layup with 5:14 left in the fourth.
Charles Wesley hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:10 left in the game to break a 27-27 tie and standout Jalen Jones followed with a layup for a five-point lead inside the final 45 seconds.
“It hurt, you don’t want to go home so early,” Thomas said. “The team we played, I think we should’ve beat, we just didn’t come out ready to play at the beginning. We had to fight from behind and that hurt us a little bit. We got back in it and to tie (them), but just made some big mistakes.”
Shane Johnson scored six points in the second half and led Shoemaker with nine points. Pat Mark hit two 3s and finished with eight points and both Paris Yerry and Thomas finished with seven.
Jones led Cedar Hill with 18 points, including six in the first quarter and eight in the third.
Shoemaker made just five field goals in the first half and only two in the first 12-plus minutes as the Longhorns jumped out to an 18-4 lead with just under 4½ minutes left in the first half.
Yerry hit a 3 for Shoemaker and both he and Thomas scored in the final 35 seconds of the half to trail just 20-12 at halftime.
The Longhorns stretched their lead back to 14 early in the third when Jones twice converted three-point plays on inbound layups in the first minute and a half.
Nykolas Dawson scored Shoemaker’s first field goal of the second half on an easy layup with 4:20 left in the third that cut Cedar Hill’s lead to 28-15. Dawson’s bucket sparked a 12-4 Shoemaker run — the Grey Wolves were 5-of-6 from the floor during the run while the Longhorns made just two of their five shot attempts and turned the ball over five times in the same span.
Shoemaker trailed just 32-25 going into the fourth, where Mark scored a quick layup in the first 30 seconds of the period and followed with a 3 that pulled the Grey Wolves’ to within two, 32-30, as the Longhorns missed their first five shots.
After Thomas’ game-tying 3-pointer, Charlie Middleton re-claimed a two-point Longhorns’ lead on a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer by Wesley stretched that to 37-32 with 4:16 left.
Johnson converted a three-point play and Yerry scored on a putback to tie the game again at 35-35 with 1:48 left before Wesley’s second 3 of the quarter started the Longhorns’ game-clinching run 30 seconds later.
“We just started to late. We didn’t play good enough,” Yerry said. “We just tried to come out (in the second half) and play hard. We were already too far behind and when we did get up, we just messed up and came up short.”