The finish to the Yellow Jackets’ season-opener proved to be better than the start, and as a starting point to the season, there were positives and negatives to the performance.
“I got to see some stuff I wanted to see, needed to see,” Denison head coach Dale Rhodes said. “I needed to see different combinations and different rotations. With eight sophomores, there was a lot to get used to.”
Tarrence Gaines had 23 points and seven rebounds to lead the Yellow Jackets but Frisco Independence had five players in double figures to defeat Denison, 83-58, on the Jackets’ home floor.
Jadarian Price added 13 points and three rebounds, Nate Uber chipped in nine points and Trey Rhodes grabbed four rebounds for the Jackets, who play at Carrollton Creekview on Friday night.
The Knights, also playing their opening game, had a 24-point lead at half-time and made 22-of-36 free throws for the game.
“If we cut down on the fouls, who knows what happens?” Rhodes said. “When we’re not making shots, we’ve got to make sure they don’t make shots. We were just giving them free points. We’ve got to be better on defense.”
Denison was at its best in the fourth quarter, scoring almost as many points (24) as it did combined in the middle two quarters (25). But by that time it was too late — Independence held a 30-point advantage going into the final eight minutes.
“We’re going to play better,” Rhodes said. “I saw some things we need to attack in practice. We’ve got to spread the ball around. Somebody has to assert themselves.”
There was no more evident stretch of that in the second quarter when Gaines picked up his third foul in the first 20 seconds of the stanza and sat the rest of the half.
The senior swingman scored all nine of Denison’s points in the first quarter — Independence was up 24-9 at the end of the period thanks to Kyle Jones spurring a 10-3 run in the middle of it — and the Jackets scuffled without him on the floor. They went scoreless for two stretches combined over five minutes in the quarter. The first allowed the Knights to hold a 31-9 lead.
Uber hit a pair of three-pointers around a lay-in from Landry Massenburg and even with that output Independence pushed forward to a 42-17 advantage.
In the third quarter, Gaines scored on the opening possession but the Knights followed with a 16-0 run to put things out of reach.
The Jackets finished the game with a flurry. Gaines canned a pair of three-pointers and scored 12 of his points in the final four minutes. Asa Osbourn and Uber also connected on threes in the fourth.
Denison had trouble at times matching Independence’s size, losing the rebounding battle, and committed 13 first-half turnovers as it fell behind. With less than a week’s worth of practice for more than half the roster due to football, plus two other Jackets out with injury, the focus will be on getting better results in practice over the next few weeks.
“My team’s been together since Thursday. They’ve had their team since the start of school,” Rhodes said. “I saw some good stuff. There are things to work on. And we’ll work on them.”