By TONY EIERDAM
In a District 6-3A game played Tuesday at Castleberry, the Mineral Wells Rams got off to a slow start and had to rally from 29 down in the second half with 32 fourth-quarter points to win the game.
On Friday at home against Lake Worth in continuing district action, the Rams made sure recent history did not repeat itself.
Paced by a 25-point opening period and 45 points scored in the first half, the Rams jumped out to a big lead and finished strong as they handled the Bullfrogs, 83-40, to raise their 6-3A mark to 4-1 to stay alone in second place.
The Rams will continue district play at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fort Worth Diamond Hill.
While MWHS had four players reach double figures – including a season-high 18 points from Broderick Johnson who also added seven rebounds – Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said it was defense that keyed the win.
“We wanted to play strong defense early and rebound the ball, and we did,” he said.”When you hold a an athletic team like Lake Worth to 40 points there is nothing to say but defense won the game.
“Offensively, we don’t usually have a hard time scoring – other than the first half against Castleberry last Tuesday – but (Friday) was some of the best defense we have played this year.
“We played man defense most of the game – full court man – and we ran a couple of zone presses, but nothing fancy. We didn’t really trap a whole lot; everyone just stayed with his guy.
“We saw film on them and saw that they aren’t a great outside shooting team, so our philosophy was to try and make them beat us from the perimeter.
“For the most part our kids did that.”
Pappas was pleased to see his post, Johnson, active on both ends of the floor.
“Broderick has gotten better every game,” Pappas said. “He is starting to score for us and his rebounding is improving, and he is doing all of the things we have asked him to do from the beginning of the season.
“He is just a sophomore and he has a lot of up side.”
The Rams were led in scoring by Biren Clardy who put up a game-high 21 points. Clardy is averaging 22.2 points per game in district play, with his high game coming against state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale where he scored 31 points.
Clardy set the pace early with 14 first-half points, including nine in the second period.
The Rams raced out to a 25-11 lead after the first quarter as Clardy and Johnson combined for final nine points in the quarter.
The Rams began the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take a commanding 36-11 lead.
Dexter Cross began the run with a nothing-but-net three-pointer, and Clardy and Juvaree Sutton each scored on driving layups.
With Lake Worth still have trouble on offense – thanks primarily to solid MWHS man defense – Johnson scored on a put back and Clardy scored on a jumper from the lane to give the Rams a 25-point cushion.
Johnson dominated in the third period. He scored on a pair of short turn around jumpers and on two driving layups as the MWHS advantage increased to 58-21.
The Rams sealed the game by allowing just 23 points in the second half.
On offense, MWHS forward Mark Glover scored all 12 of his points in the second half as he is starting to make his mark on the offensive end of the court.
The Rams scored 48 points in the second half to complete the blowout.