The Nocona Indians hosted an athletic Gainesville team on Tuesday night in a game when not much went in the basket for Nocona.
The Indians competed and made it a game, but just could not overcome the Leopards losing 51-45.
The first quarter was low scoring and back-and-forth as the physical defenses led to open shots not going in too much. The score was tied at 6-6 with three minutes left to play in the quarter.
Gainesville’s full-court press defense came alive during this stretch to force some turnovers and easy baskets in transition. The Leopards scored five points to go up 11-6 heading into the second quarter.
The press defense continued as Nocona struggled at times to break through, but the physical nature of the defense led to a lot of fouls against Gainesville. Still, nothing was easy for the Indians offensively.
The Leopards had the lead, but never enough to feel like Nocona could not comeback and retake it with good run. Still the Indians trailed 22-15 at halftime.
Nocona point guard Landry McCasland had taken some big shots trying to break the press in the first half. With district play starting next week, Coach Colby Schniederjan made the call to not play him in the second half since this game does not matter towards a playoff spot.
With backup point guard Lyndon Fenoglio still recovering from injury, younger players were called on in the second half to handle the tough ball handling duties, Adrian Diaz and Adam Meekins.
Things grew dire for Gainesville as well as the fouls started to add up in the third quarter.
The Indians came back to cut the lead to 28-25 late in the quarter, but the Leopards were able to create enough offense late to get back to comfortable lead 34-27 heading to the final quarter.
Even with starters fouling out, Gainesville’s lead stood solid as the lead almost got to double-digits. Nocona’s open shots and many free throws were not going in while the Leopards scored at a solid pace driving to the rim.
Down 42-33 with 3:30 to go, the Indians were still playing for the win as the intensity was picked up. After some shots were made, time outs were called and strategic substitutions were made by Nocona in an effort to win despite the time running low.
The Indians cut the lead to 50-45 with 15 seconds left.
After second the Leopards to the free throw line and them missing, Nocona was fouled and had a chance to cut the lead to three with a few seconds left.
Both free throws missed and Gainesville secured the ball. Fouled in the final seconds out of desperation, the Leopards made one of two to make the final score 51-45.
Jason Sparkman and Cesar Gutierrez each led the team with nine points.
Nocona plays its final non-district game at 7 p.m. at Hirschi on Jan. 13.
The Indians open up district at Holliday at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 17.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the weekend edition of the Bowie News.