Crocker utilized a balanced approach throughout Tuesday night's contest, but Frisco Conference opponent Stoutland improved in each quarter and nearly stole a victory on Crocker's home floor.
Just before halftime, the Crocker boys' offense began coagulating. Its isolation approach produced seven-straight points on two paint field goals and a three ball, which increased the lead to 34-25 at the midway mark.
“We settled down and got into our sets,” Crocker coach Phillip Gambill said. “When we finally gave [the offensive sets] a chance, [baskets] started coming easy.”
Despite being down at halftime, Stoutland's Tony Sein dropped 8 first half points and kept his squad motivated throughout the ballgame.
Behind Sein's 20 second half points (game-high 28 total), Stoutland was able to outscore Crocker in the third and fourth quarters, which included three ties and seven lead changes.
Trading baskets was troubling for Gambill, who is a self-proclaimed defensive coach.
“As a coach that's known as a defensive coach...it's frustrating to watch us exchange baskets with a team,” he said. “We're definitely going to get back to practicing on the defensive end.”
As the game clock ran below the 2:00 mark and the game was tied at 65, Crocker nailed back-to-back buckets. On the second made shot, Crocker's senior forward Dalton York was fouled; York hit the free throw to extend the lead to 70-65.
York finished with a team-high 19 points and 5 rebounds.
With too little time to play, Crocker held on to win by making a few more free throws. The final score: 73-66, despite several chances for Crocker to extend the lead with late free throws.
Crocker's Austin Bogle, soph. (18 points, 6 rebounds), Justin Sloan, jr. (16 points, 6 assists), and Rich Heenan, sr. (10 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists) were the team's leading scorers. Logan Ishmael, jr., led his Crocker team with 12 rebounds.
Stoutland's fouls pushed Crocker into the double bonus late in the game, but Crocker fell short several times on the front-end free throw.
“We had the guys on the line that we wanted to shoot,” Gambill said. “I'm just proud to get out of our own home gym with a win tonight.”
Gambill said Tuesday's fast-paced contest –which affected free throw shooting – was not what his team planned for.
“Tonight wasn't really the pace we wanted,” Gambill said. “We wanted to really slow [Stoutland] down.”
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Stoutland's tempo produced early possession shot attempts, but Crocker responded by fighting for 42 team rebounds.
“Our two big guys had 12 boards apiece,” Gambill said. “I think we were averaging in the mid-to-upper twenties [rebounds] as a team before tonight. We were closing out on shooters and...we didn't allow [Stoutland] any second put-backs.”
At 2-3 overall, Crocker looks to improve to .500 at home Friday for a 5 p.m. match-up against St. Elizabeth. Tuesday's game presented 85 offensive possessions for Crocker and, in preparation for Friday's game, Gambill said his squad needs to practice slowing down gameplay by controlling the ball on offense.
St. Elizabeth has dropped its first three contests, but has put up a fight in each game, but in Tuesday night's 60-33 loss at Newburg, St. Elizabeth scored its fewest points in a game this season.