DENTON — When an opposing team makes 14 of its first 19 shots from the floor and maintains that pace for three full quarters, a victory simply isn’t in the cards.
Especially when your team answers by making just 3-of-20 in the second quarter.
Even though it was a District 5-5A game, the Sherman Bearcats were out of their league against first-place Denton High on this particular Friday night, and head coach Marcus Klingsick knew it.
“Early in the game we played right there with them and I thought we were giving it right back to them,” Klingsick said after the Bearcats were practically run out of the gym by the Broncos at the Purple Pit, 96-55. “I don’t know what happened, but we just shut down on defense and didn’t hit shots for a big stretch.”
On the night, the Broncos made a ridiculous 65 percent (43-of-65) from the field, and that included a 3-of-9 fourth quarter by the Denton reserves. Through three quarters, the shooting rate was an astounding 71.4 percent.
Six Denton players scored in double digits, led by Jalin Brown with 17 points and Joseph Frisby flinging in 16. Brown also had a game-high seven rebounds.
Jeremy Norvell recorded 16 points, five rebounds and three steals to lead the Bearcats (16-8, 3-3) in all three categories, followed by Daishawn Nelson with 13 points and Kemonte Dowdy with 11.
Leading season scorer Jaylyn Cleamons had five first-quarter points before having to sit the remainder of the night because of a sore hamstring.
“He wouldn’t tell you that,” Klingsick said of Cleamons. “Once we knew the outcome, we held him out. He was favoring it so we tried to rest him. He gutted it through but it was a tough go for him.”
Highlighting just how accurate Denton was, the Bearcats had only eight defensive rebounds all night, four of which were team rebounds.
Sherman finished the game with eight 3-pointers, but that did little to parry the avalanche of buckets that the homestanding Broncos brought.
The Bearcats hung tough for a frenetic first four minutes, and actually held a 17-15 lead on a Cleamons 3-pointer midway through the opening stanza.
But then, the Bearcats suddenly went ice-cold, while the Broncos continuted to sizzle. Denton (13-9, 6-0) completed the first period on a 16-0 tear, and the run continued to 24-0 well into the second quarter before a Nelson runner ended the drought. Another spurt of 12-0 was halted by a Dowdy 3 that trimmed the halftime deficit to 57-25.
“End of the first, start of the second we were stuck on 17,” Klingsick said. “They just kept going forever with what they were doing. We tried to get them stopped and we never could. Gotta tip your cap to them; they did a great job.
“But we need to be a lot better defensively. To be strong in the second half (of district) and the playoffs, we’re going to have to be a lot stronger defensively.”
There was no slowing down the fast-breaking Broncos. With 3:49 remaining in the third quarter and owning a 77-35 lead, Broncos coach Harold Jackson lit the figurative victory cigar by substituting all five starters en masse for the night. That allowed the Bearcats to keep Denton under the century mark — just barely.
The Bearcats visit cellar-dwelling Denton Braswell to tip off the second round of district play Tuesday night, then will host Denton Ryan next Friday night in the first of three crucial rematches that will give them an opportunity to climb the 5-5A ladder.
As long as Sherman can keep fifth-place Wichita Falls at arm’s length, the Bearcats’ chances of snapping a four-year playoff absence are still looking pretty good despite Friday night’s road clunker.
“The three teams plus us (in the top four of District 5-5A) are all pretty good teams,” Klingsick said. “We just had a bad night tonight and hopefully we’ll come back. We’ve got all three teams ahead of us in the standings in the future, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Denton 96, Sherman 55
Sherman 17 8 18 12 — 55
Denton 31 26 30 9 — 96
Sherman (16-8, 3-3): Jeremy Norvell 16, Daishawn Nelson 13, Kemonte Dowdy 11, Jaylyn Cleamons 5, Ladarren Sewell 4, Rayvon Hester 3, Curtis Gay 2, Harrison Key 1.
Denton (13-9, 6-0): Jalin Brown 17, Joseph Frisby 16, Chayvon Moore 15, Caleb Allison 12, Tyrus Johnson 10, Caleb Osuofa 10, Arbin Fera 7, Donte Tucker 4, Elijah Thibodeaux 3, Luke Fleitman 2.