GATESVILLE — Thomas Winkler cannot point to a particular moment.
After a slow start dropped Gatesville into a double-digit deficit, the Hornets were in danger of allowing visiting Robinson to earn its first District 17-4A win of the season.
Then, things turned around.
Moments after the Rockets scored four consecutive points to create a 29-21 advantage, Gatesville found its rhythm, embarking on a game-changing 17-2 run and allowing just nine points during the duration of the game en route to a 49-38 victory.
Following the win, the Hornets’ head coach admitted he could not determine a specific turning point.
“I don’t know what happened,” Winkler said, “but our defensive intensity picked up, and the kids just started getting after it.
“I’m not sure it was anything the coaching staff did or said; I just think the kids started competing.”
Despite Gatesville’s surge, Robinson remained close until late in the game.
The Rockets pulled within two points, 40-38, with less than four minutes remaining in the contest, but Gatesville senior guard Alex
Mata found teammate Wacey Bowland for a layup to create a four-point cushion.
Then, a pair of Robinson players received technical fouls after leaving the bench during an on-court altercation, and the Hornets made three of the four resulting free throws to pull away for good.
In the fourth quarter, Gatesville (17-9, 4-2) recorded 13 of its 18 points at the free-throw line, including each of its last eight.
“We’ve made free throws a focus in practice,” Winkler said, “because early in the season, we weren’t shooting them very well. So we changed some things, and it is making a difference.”
Hornets senior forward Kennon Moore and Mata shared game-high scoring honors with 15 points apiece, while teammate Brandon Hill added 10 points, including five in the third quarter.
The victory comes on the heels of a 52-44 loss at China Spring, and considering the Rockets were winless in district, Winkler knew it was not a game Gatesville could afford to lose.
“This was game we really needed,” he said, “but every game is big from here on out.”