The Runnin' Rams led at the end of three out of four quarters on Tuesday night, but it was the fourth and final quarter that did them in in an eventual 69-57 loss to district foe Benbrook High School.
The Rams started strong with a 10-2 edge in the first quarter on shots by junior D'ija Kennedy and senior Isaiah Hockenhull. A Kennedy jumper followed by Hockenhull free throws put the Rams up 21-10 early in the second.
Another senior and the Rams leading scorer Carlos Gray got things going as well.
After a three point play by Bobcat guard Quintan Jackson cut the Ram lead to eight, Gray took control scoring 10 of the game's next 12 points to give the Rams their largest lead of the night, 31-19, with two minutes to play before half. With one of his best performances of the season, Gray scored a game-high 31 points in the loss.
In the third quarter, the Rams' 12-point halftime lead quickly evaporated thanks to the play of Bobcats Jackson and Keevon Kennedy.
Both guards contributed to a devastating full court press implemented by Benbrook head coach and former Mineral Wells player JD Robinson. The Bobcats forced some two-dozen Ram turnovers in the game, the majority of which came in the second half.
By the end of the third, the Ram lead was down to just one point, 49-48, and the fourth was all Benbrook. The Bobcats outscored the Rams 21-8 in the final frame while continuing to press until the final few minutes of play. Along with turnovers, the Ram offense struggled down the stretch, at one point missing six straight shots.
Behind the effort from Gray were strong contributions from Kennedy with 16 points, Hockenhull and senior Lance Crawford each with for points and senior Christian Ramsay with two.
In a reversal of the varsity game, the junior varsity Ram offense started slow then turned things on in the second half on their way to a 44-35 win.
The Rams never lost a quarter, outscoring Benbrook 9-7 in each of the first two. In the third, the Rams jumped on the Bobcats for a game-high 14 points behind top scorer Drew Huff who finished the game with 23.
Rams Justin Bell and Braden Fryer also played well with seven and five points respectively. Elsewhere, Ram Brandon Garnett finished with four points, Cameron Tucker scored three points and Mathew Pierce had a pair.
Mineral Wells Runnin' Rams basketball has a day off this Friday night before the boys return to the hard court for district action at home on Tuesday, Jan. 16. At 1-3 in District 7-4A, the Rams will need a win when they take on the 3-1 Castleberry Lions.