GATESVILLE — Victory was within reach.
With less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Gatesville was on the verge of snapping its five-game losing streak after post Will Carroll’s basket cut Georgetown East View’s lead to four points, 44-40.
Then, it slipped away.
The Patriots closed the period with eight unanswered points, and the Hornets never recovered, losing 64-48 in their home tournament finale Friday afternoon.
Following the defeat, Gatesville head coach Thomas Winkler admitted his team let an opportunity escape its grasp.
“We had a couple mental lapses,” he said, “and it allowed them to extend their lead to a point that it was just too hard for us to get back in it.
“The guys kept fighting and kept working, but it was just too much.”
Undefeated tournament champion East View’s cushion inflated to 56-43 early in the fourth quarter before Jett Truss’s successful and-1 free throw culminated five consecutive points for the Hornets.
But Gatesville (6-16) did not score again, resulting in the team’s second six-game losing skid of the season.
The Hornets held two leads in the contest’s infancy as Truss opened the scoring with a 3-pointer before Derrick Bayer found Seth Trotter for a layup to create a 5-3 contest.
The Patriots responded with 10 unanswered points, however, and Gatesville drew within four points on three occasions but could not get any closer.
“Getting beat in transition is probably what hurt us the most in this game,” Winkler said, “and it really wasn’t even off turnovers; it was off rebounds.
“We weren’t doing a good enough job getting back, and that’s something we have to talk about.”
Senior guard Brandon Hill scored a team-high 12 points for the Hornets, while teammates Truss (9 points) and Zach Mueller (8 points, 10 rebounds) complemented the outing. Additionally, Carroll finished with seven points.
“Offensively,” Winkler said, “that was one of the better games we’ve played. We had movement, we were setting better screens and more people were getting involved.
“I don’t ever want to get beat, but I definitely feel better now than I did earlier in the day.”
Gatesville began the morning by suffering a 54-45 loss to Fort Worth Country Day in the five-team, round robin tournament. It was the Falcons’ lone victory, placing them fourth, while Austin St. Michael’s (3-1) and Godley (2-2) rounded out the top three with East View.
With the holiday break drawing to a close, the Hornets resume District 17-4A competition Tuesday, when they host Waco Connally in the first of four consecutive home games.
After losing its district opener to La Vega, Winkler knows reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013 will not be easy, but he feels his players are prepared.
“Honestly,” Winkler said, “this tournament was probably better for us than practices.
“The game against East View was great for us as we head back into district, because it was a pretty good simulation of what we will see from a lot of teams.”
FRIDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SCORES
BYRON JOHNSTON HOLIDAY CLASSIC
- Spring Woods 49, Belton 39
FORT WORTH ISD CLASSIC
- Ellison 54, Flower Mound Marcus 53
- Keller Central 55, Shoemaker 49
GATESVILLE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
- Fort Worth Country Day 54, Gatesville 45
- Georgetown East View 64, Gatesville 48
TEXAS BANK HOLIDAY CLASSIC
- Lampasas 65, Midland Greenwood 64
- Lampasas 55, Stephenville 42
VICTORIA ISD MIKE SMITH CLASSIC
- Copperas Cove 75, Victoria West 56
- Copperas Cove 79, Fort Bend Willowridge 55
FRIDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS SCORES
- Copperas Cove 57, Bryan Rudder 50
- Katy Seven Lakes 50, Copperas Cove 38
- Shoemaker 46, Smithson Valley 41
- Clear Falls 49, Shoemaker 34
M.T. RICE TOURNAMENT
At Lorena HS
- Humble Summer Creek 42, Belton 36
- Belton 50, Waco Connally 47
TROY CHRISTMAS CLASSIC
- Lampasas 39, Troy 29