In their first District 8-6A game of the new year, the Shoemaker Grey Wolves played like a new team Tuesday night, defeating Belton 61-49.
While the Wolves may not have had much tournament success over the holiday break, district games are what matter most for a team aiming to make it to the playoffs.
The break seemed to do them well as they came out charging in the first quarter with a 16-2 run.
“We showed them something they didn’t think they were going to see and kind of caught them off guard,” Shoemaker head coach Brandon Gilbert said. “I’m just excited, happy to get that win.”
Late in the period, junior forward Romeo Postell stole the ball and drove it down the length of the court for a dunk that not only got the Shoemaker crowd cheering, but got the Grey Wolves bench on its feet.
Postell kept building the momentum as junior guard Tavon McCorvey found him waiting in the post for a second dunk, causing the crowd to go wild and Belton to call a its first timeout down 16-4.
“It was great, I’ve never had that kind of feeling before,” Postell said. “When it happened, I was kind of just stuck in the moment, screaming my butt off, and it was just a great feeling.”
Shoemaker’s defense kept the Tigers at a comfortable distance, limiting Belton to only five points the entire second quarter, all of which came from free throws, as the Grey Wolves (10-7, 1-1 8-6A) led 27-9 at halftime.
“That’s our big thing,” Gilbert said, “I say it every day, just limit teams to one shot or no shots.
“We can’t give them more than a second shot, but through the first two quarters I thought we did a good job.”
While Shoemaker outscored Belton from the outside, the Grey Wolves just couldn’t sink their free throws, going 10-for-21 compared to Belton’s 13-for-16.
“We came back rusty and we spent a lot of time trying to knock the rust off,” Gilbert said of his players returning from the UIL five-day mandatory holiday break, “and I say we still got to knock the rust off our free throws.”
“We’ve got to work on those more and we should be fine,” Postell added.
In the middle of the third quarter Shoemaker held a 22-point lead over Belton as McCorvey found senior Duwain Thomas for an easy layup to help keep them ahead.
Shoemaker held a 45-21 lead going into the last eight minutes of play.
Fouls added up quickly in the fourth quarter for both teams, but that didn’t stop either team from playing an aggressive game, including Shoemaker junior Jwan Roberts who fouled out in late in the period after putting up 22 points for the Grey Wolves.
Postell added 13 points for Shoemaker. McCorvey finished with 11.
Dontori Lott led Belton (11-10, 0-2) with 18. Kiron Griffin Jr. had 10.
As a team, Shoemaker is starting to come together and communicate on the floor, which leads to plays executed according to plan, but it’s still a work in progress.
Gilbert knows past Grey Wolves teams had players who connected over years of playing basketball together, in and out of school.
“They have to start trusting and believing in each other. It’s the culture I’m trying to create,” he said. “Our kids have to develop a chemistry so, even if we’re not talking, they know and they gotta feel that that person is going to be there for them.”
Losing the district opener at Ellison before the winter break hit the team pretty hard, Postell said.
“So coming back and getting the win, a big win, feels pretty good.”
TUESDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SCORES
- No. 13 Ellison 68, Copperas Cove 65
- Harker Heights 77, San Angelo Central 74, OT (Gooding 38 pts, 5 3s for Knights)
- Shoemaker 61, Belton 49
- Waco Midway 81, Killeen 45
- Waco Connally 92, Gatesville 41
- Burnet 48, Salado 41
TUESDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS SCORES
- Florence 46, Hill Country Christian 16
- Lampasas 43, 2A-No. 20 San Saba 41 (seventh straight win for LHS)