The holiday break can be a danger zone for some teams, a two-or-more-week stretch that can undo any of the work and results leading into the time off.

The holiday break can be a danger zone for some teams, a two-or-more-week stretch that can undo any of the work and results leading into the time off.


Routines get disrupted right when the games start to mean the most and a pivotal contest could swing the wrong way.


The Denison Yellow Jackets, however, seem to be coming together during this period because of early-season issues. With football and the weather keeping them from finding out what they were under a first-year head coach, the Jackets have come on in the little time since Christmas Day.


"I was definitely pleased. The idea of what I’m expecting from them is starting to show there," Denison head coach Chet Byerly said. "We made shots tonight we haven’t normally made."


Will Parker scored 16 points and the Jackets were a perfect 14-of-14 from the free-throw line as Denison defeated Wylie, 62-43, in District 13-4A action on Friday night.


The Jackets (4-9, 1-2) and Pirates both opened district with a pair of defeats and the loser was going to be in a grim spot for a playoff push. Denison now travels to Greenville with a chance to even its 13-4A mark.


"We’re in a situation where we have to get a couple," Byerly said. "If we could get to 2-2, that would really put us in the hunt."


When the Jackets entered the Sherman Holiday Invitational, they had played just four games with their full roster. The tourney let them play five times in three days and start to figure out their roles.


Denison was on the verge of six players getting to double digits against the Pirates. McShane Wyatt added 14 points, Jaleel Dade finished with nine points, Raylen Johnson totaled eight points and Delwin Washington chipped in six points and nine rebounds.


"We had great balance," Byerly said. "That comes with us playing more as a team, being unselfish."


Myron Varmall had 10 points to lead Wylie, which led 13-10 after the first quarter. After Wyatt opening the game with a three-pointer, the Pirates scored the next seven. The final three quarters, however, were a different story at the offensive end.


"We switched up going to our zone a bit. With what they were doing and the flow of the game, I thought our zone was working," Byerly said. "We had guys communicating and were more aware."


The Pirates had just six points in the second quarter and four of them came when Varmall converted a free throw after he was fouled making a three-pointer in the middle of the frame. K.T. Cox’s jumper two minutes later were the only other Wylie points in the eight-minute span.


Denison tied the game at 17 on a Johnson three and took the lead for good on back-to-back baskets from Parker and Washington. Johnson’s two free throws in the closing seconds gave the Jackets, who had just two first-half turnovers, a 25-19 lead at the break.


Wylie’s best chance to get back into the came was right at the start of the third quarter. The Pirates got two quick baskets to make the deficit 27-23 before an 8-0 spurt, finished with a three-point play by Ross, put Denison’s lead at double-digits. The Pirates got within nine later in the quarter but Wyatt connected from long range to finish the frame for a 14-point advantage.


Denison’s defense kept the margin comfortable by holding Wylie to just one basket and a free throw in the first half of the fourth quarter. The Pirates made two baskets in the fourth and Denison responded with scores immediately on the other end and then used its sharp shooting at the line to quell any thoughts of a comeback attempt.