TOM BEAN — In one of their final games before district play gets underway, the Tomcats were seeking a positive outcome. After opening the season with two wins in the first three games, the victories have been tough to come by for Tom Bean.
A nine-game losing streak was finally snapped and then four more losses followed. Five of them were by single digits.
So as the final seconds of the Tomcats’ 53-47 win over Honey Grove in non-district action were ticking away, it was a welcome sight.
“It’s a good win. We needed it,” Tom Bean head coach Wes Chapman said. “We’ve played some really good programs. We’ve had a tough schedule. That’s part of it.”
Ryan Weems scored 20 points, Bryce Clark added 14 points, Zach Lusk and Corbin Ramey chipped in six points apiece and Zach Adcock totaled five points and 10 rebounds for Tom Bean (4-14), which is off until playing at Bland on Jan. 14 to close out non-district play.
“We’re trying to find a new identity. They’ve not gotten their heads down,” Chapman said. “We’re trying to get better every game. We’re going to be ready when district comes — that’s the mantra.”
Hayden Stroud scored 13 points, Ben Patrick added 11 points, Brock Bailey chipped in nine points and Ki Bass finished with eight points for Honey Grove, which tied the game in the middle of the fourth quarter but could never pull ahead as Tom Bean made plays down the stretch at both ends of the floor.
“We hadn’t been in that spot a whole lot,” Chapman said. “I was anxious to see how we’d play in that spot.”
Honey Grove got three-pointers from Bass and Stroud in the first half of the fourth so that Bailey’s putback with 3:46 knotted the score at 44.
On the ensuing possession Clark drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key and the Tomcats never trailed again.
“That’s a huge shot. That’s a game-changing play,” Chapman said. “He’s a guy that’s definitely adjusting to a new role. He’s coming into his own.”
Honey Grove had a chance to take the lead but turned the ball over trying to inbound with just over two minutes left and down one.
Lusk made a pair of free throws and then Adcock came up with the ball after blocking a shot, threw it ahead to Weems and his layin with 45 seconds left provided a five-point margin.
Bailey had a chance to make it a one-possession game with 21 seconds to go but missed his second free-throw attempt. Ramey came up with the ball in the scramble for the rebound and hit two free throws to seal the victory.
“Traditionally we’ve been get up and down, create for yourself,” Chapman said. “We don’t have that one guy. We have a team full of guys that trust each other and create for each other. I don’t know if I have a guy averaging double figures right now. It’s nine points, eight points, eight points. We’re a very balanced team.”
Tom Bean pushed its advantage to nine points — 34-25 — three minutes into the second half as Honey Grove managed just one free throw in the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter.
“We switch from playing zone in the first half to going man to man and that led to some turnovers and easy baskets,” Chapman said. “It’s the first time I’ve played zone primarily in my career because I think it fits these kids. But they’ve played man-to-man a lot so switching it up is something we might do more.”
Tom Bean’s lead was down to six going to the fourth quarter when Bass made a three-pointer in the closing seconds.
The Tomcats used an 11-2 run late in the second quarter for a 29-25 lead at the break.
Honey Grove held a 21-18 advantage on Patrick’s jumper with 3:43 to go in the half before Weems drilled a left-corner three to the tie the game and Adcock and Lusk each put back misses. Weems then produced the final four points of the run, the last coming on free throws with a minute showing.
Bailey’s putback with 15 seconds left got Honey Grove within four.
Honey Grove held a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Tomcats had a pair of early leads on baskets by Adcock and Clark before Stroud converted a three-point play.
Clark’s three-pointer from the right wing tied the score at seven but the Warriors notched the next four points and Patrick’s drive in the final minute gave Honey Grove the three-point margin.