Paris Yerry just needed a little inspiration.
After a lackluster first half, Yerry was reminded that he’s one of the best players on the court for the Shoemaker Grey Wolves and he needed to start playing like it.
“I should’ve been trying to score the ball and going harder (on defense),” Yerry said. “I just needed my effort to be up a little more than usual because it was a district game.”
Yerry scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter where Shoemaker pulled away, and the Grey Wolves defeated Killeen 69-59 in the District 8-5A opener for both teams.
“Paris is a very good player. His confidence wavers on the court all the time and we just try to preach to him to play with confidence and to realize he’s good,” said Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea. “We coach Paris hard in practice and during the games because we see a lot of potential in him.”
Shoemaker (14-3, 1-0 8-5A) hit nine 3-pointers in the game, including five in the third quarter to take a 50-45 lead into the fourth after trailing by as many as seven points in the first half.
“We planned on stopping them from scoring in the paint ... so we thought if we made them shoot (from the outside), they’d miss a lot of shots and we’d just get the rebound and push the ball,” said Killeen junior forward Brian Long. “But it was real frustrating watching them knocking down shots tonight.”
Killeen (9-9, 0-1) jumped out to a 24-17 lead in the second quarter on a layup by Long, but missed its next six shots. The Grey Wolves closed the half on a 14-3 run, getting five points from Yerry and four from Shane Johnson and a 3-pointer from Renard Thomas.
Thomas hit three 3s and finished with 15 points. Johnson had 13 and Sean Causey added 12 for Shoemaker, which won its sixth straight game since losing two in a row at a tournament earlier in the month.
Long scored 17 to lead the Roos, who have lost six of their last seven. DeVarri McCray scored nine of his 13 points in the first quarter and Melvin Anthony finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Long had 12 rebounds.
Killeen jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but a layup by Yerry gave the Grey Wolves a short-lived 12-11 lead with 2:13 left in the first quarter. McCray scored the final seven points of the period to give the Roos an 18-12 lead going into the second.
The Roos hit just 18 of 44 shots in the final three periods, most of which were in and around the paint.
“The guys came out fighting — they know how to play, they know what they’re supposed to do and, for the most part, actually did it throughout the game,” said Killeen coach Reggie Huggins of the Roos’ positive start. “It’s just we missed a lot of chippies, just didn’t get what we needed to get. It’s a loss, you can’t get put out of the playoffs from the first (district) game.”
Shoemaker was 18-of-34 from the field, including 7-of-13 from behind the arc, and outscored Killeen 54-41 after falling behind 24-17. With 19 points in the final three quarters, Yerry was in the middle of the Grey Wolves takeover.
“When he started hitting shots, when Sean started hitting shots in the middle of the game, we were able to build a little lead. And, I think, we also relaxed and were able to have a few better possessions on the defensive end,” Minatrea said.
Trailing by five going into the fourth, the Roos turned the ball over on their first three possessions and both Yerry and Johnson scored in the first two minutes to give the Grey Wolves a 45-54 lead.
A pull-up by Anthony cut the deficit to six, 52-58, with three minutes left, but, following a double foul, Thomas found Torenzo Saunders open under the Shoemaker goal for an easy dunk that sparked a 7-4 run that gave the Grey Wolves a comfortable 67-57 lead with 41 seconds left.