SALADO — Lampasas needed to make a point.
During the opening day of Salado’s Coach Smith Memorial Tournament, the Badgers split their games behind a pair of lackluster efforts, including a one-sided defeat to Class 2A No. 2 Thorndale.
Following the performances, it was evident Lampasas head coach Aaron Nuckles’ reaction motivated his players.
“We wanted to prove him wrong,” Badgers guard Austin Martin said, “because he was saying that we’d get beat by every team we face if we kept playing like that.
“So, we had to make sure that we didn’t keep playing the way we were. We had to be better.”
And they were.
Lampasas recorded 14 unanswered points to open its game against McGregor and never slowed down, earning an 88-54 victory as Martin posted a team-high 21 points to lead four Badgers with double-digit scoring totals.
Following the victory, Nuckles admitted the showing made a statement.
“We did not represent who we are the first day,” he said. “For whatever reason, we got pushed around and dominated by Thorndale. They just outplayed us.
“We had to get better at playing halfcourt basketball. That’s what I wanted to see, and I saw it.”
Perhaps nobody was more influential in the outcome than Martin.
The senior connected on his first four shots of the contest, including a 3-pointer to cap off the Badgers’ initial 14-0 outburst. Lampasas entered the second quarter with a 26-5 advantage, but the Bulldogs won the period 19-15 to trim into the deficit.
After halftime, however, Martin delivered another offensive flurry, scoring 11 points and hitting each of his first four shots in the third quarter.
“It’s very important to start halves strong,” he said, “so we’re not playing from behind. Everything is just easier when you can get the pressure off.
“It’s just relaxing and calming.”
Along with his 8-of-16 shooting performance, Martin added three rebounds, three assists and two steals in the victory, while teammates Kyle Sims, Shree Patel and Kolbe Penick contributed 15, 14 and 13 points, respectively. Additionally, Tyler Quarles added nine points for Lampasas, and post Xavier Nix grabbed a game-high eight rebounds to go with six points.
The Badgers, who concluded the tournament’s second day with a late game against Class 3A No. 2 Jarrell, will look to deliver another impressive showing in their final contest today.
But it will take more of the same effort to do so, according to Nuckles.
“It comes down to playing defense and making shots,” he said. “If we can get some stops and get some fastbreaks, that is critical for us to get going.
“We’ve been a slow-starting team, and we don’t want to go back to that.”
SALADO BOYS RALLY TO DEFEAT CAMERON YOE: Kenny Mann cannot complain.
In two of its first three games to open its home tournament, Salado was forced to climb out of an early hole. While the Eagles were unable to complete a rally in their first game, falling 56-52 to Caldwell on Thursday, they achieved the feat Friday.
After trailing 15-5 following the first quarter against Cameron Yoe, Salado exploded for 23 points in the second period, propelling the Eagles to a 55-42 victory.
While Salado’s head coach would like to avoid additional sluggish starts, he cannot argue with the outcome.
“Truthfully,” Mann said, “I’d rather start slow and finish fast.
“Our finishes have been pretty good, so I’d much rather do things like that than have it be the other way around.”
Behind Anthony Young’s game-high 15-point outing, including 11 in the pivotal second quarter, the Eagles improved to 2-1 heading into Friday’s late contest against Flour Bluff.
Sam Brown complemented the showing with a 13 points, while teammate Jeremy Jarvis added nine points.
LADY EAGLES SPLIT GAMES: In the girls division, host Salado bounced back from a winless opening day by going 1-1 on Friday.
The Lady Eagles defeated Pflugerville Weiss’ junior varsity team 36-23 before narrowly falling to West 38-36.
Kayla Manning’s nine points against Weiss paced Salado, while teammates Katelyn Seymour and Lexie Lima contributed eight points apiece in the victory.
Salado did not receive as balanced scoring against West, though.
Danielle McDaniel was the lone Lady Eagles player to make a shot in the fourth quarter, and her 3-pointer gave Salado a 35-33 lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
The cushion was deflated in the final 20 seconds, though, as West sandwiched a layup and a free throw around a critical turnover by Salado.
McDaniel scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter, while teammate Kaia Philen finished with 16 points in the loss.
SALADO BOYS FALL IN NIGHTCAP: Ty Burns scored 16 points, Dorian Bertero and Brandon Trammell each added 15 and Corpus Christi Flour Bluff held off Salado 65-59 to wrap Friday's tourney slate.
Jeremy Jarvis led Salado with 13 points. Kade Maedgen added 10.
The teams battled to a 28-28 halftime tie.