By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - The Grey Wolves used second chances to make their first impression on District 12-5A.
Shoemaker scored 23 points on 22 offensive rebounds, beginning with Paris Yerry's game-opening putback to rout Belton 65-39 on Tuesday afternoon in the district opener for both teams.
Yerry scored seven of his 15 points in the first quarter and post players Chris Runnels and Jose Roman owned the paint, combining for 34 points and 20 rebounds, including 12 offensive for Shoemaker (12-3, 1-0).
Runnels, the district's newcomer of the year last season, scored a game-high 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Roman just missed a double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds.
"Paris got us off to a good start by getting that offensive rebound and hit two buckets early," Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea said. "Chris and Jose played well for the most part - they got a lot of offensive rebounds and we got a few putbacks. I thought Paris was our best player today, though. I just thought he played with confidence and he scored the ball and handled the ball well."
Daniel Mills led the Tigers (4-10, 0-1) with 18 points, but no other Belton player scored more than six and the Tigers were outrebounded 35-25 in the game.
"The big difference was they had 22 offensive rebounds, and when you give a team that many opportunities to score, you're setting yourself up for failure and that's exactly what we did," Belton coach John Osborn said.
Yerry scored the Grey Wolves' first four points in the game's first 35 seconds, prompting Osborn into a quick timeout. But the stoppage did little to stall Shoemaker, which led 18-6 after the first quarter.
"I just came out there (doing what) coach was telling us in the huddle before we started, to play hard and go out there and do what we had to do," said Yerry, who scored 10 in the first half. "I knew the post men were going to crash, so I was taking shots, taking smart shots and making the right passes."
Yerry's 3-point play gave Shoemaker an 11-4 lead and sparked a quarter-ending 10-2 run that included four offensive rebounds by the Grey Wolves in the final four minutes of the quarter.
In the second, Runnels and Roman took over, scoring 14 of the Grey Wolves' 17 points in the quarter mostly on second-chance points. Runnels scored six points on three offensive rebounds and Roman added four points on three offensive boards, helping Shoemaker take a 35-22 lead at halftime.
"Their bigs were too much for us tonight. Did they have to be? No. That's just a matter of us ... getting more physical as basketball players and be willing to hit them and push them out," Osborn said. "We didn't do it tonight and we had opportunities to do it. I really felt like we had inside position many of the times and we just never hit the guy and pushed him."
Belton did a better job rebounding in the third quarter as both offenses struggled from the floor and combined for just 16 points.
Shoemaker, though, scored on all but six possessions in the fourth while the Tigers turned the ball over seven times. Belton had 24 turnovers in the game leading to 25 easy points for the Grey Wolves, whose next district game is Jan. 3 at home against A&M Consolidated in their first home game since the last week of November. Both Shoemaker and Belton, which hosts Temple also on Jan. 3 in its next 12-5A game, play at the Leander ISD tournament next week.
"When you're in an eight-team district, the first district game is worrisome because you wait forever for it because it's the first one and then you don't get another one for two weeks because of the Christmas break," Minatrea said. "During the district season, you play a district game and, win or lose, you've got to turn right around and get ready for somebody else. I always worry about the first district game. It's a lot better to be 1-0 than 0-1."