Sherman head coach Greg Nix wasn’t sure if his Bearcats were physically ready to start pressing and trapping, after a couple of long idle stretches caused by bad weather and the Christmas holiday.

Sherman head coach Greg Nix wasn’t sure if his Bearcats were physically ready to start pressing and trapping, after a couple of long idle stretches caused by bad weather and the Christmas holiday.

But almost as a last resort, trailing Spring Woods by double digits in the Sherman Holiday Invitational, Nix called for it midway through the third period.

It paid off handsomely as Sherman converted multiple takeaways into baskets and rallied for a 75-68 win in the tournament’s Pool A boys opener on Thursday.

"I was a little bit leery about starting to press," Nix said. "I didn’t know if we had enough in the tank. We were in a little foul trouble, but we got everyone through (the game). I knew even if we lost the game, it would be good conditioning. If it worked, it could be something we can lean on."

And lean on it, they did.

Sherman (4-5) fell behind by as much as 13 points early in the third, and still trailed by that amount until Nix called a quick 30-second timeout with 5:17 left in the period after a J’Lynn Thompson basket.

From that point on, the Bearcats pressed and trapped the Tigers into numerous mistakes and embarked on a 25-6 run to take a 57-51 lead with about 5:30 left.

First, senior Tre’ Mask grabbed a loose ball in frontcourt and fed Thompson for a layup, then Ty Williams took a steal the distance for another layup, and the Cats were off and running.

Banner Sullivan’s pull-up jumper on the first possession of the fourth quarter tied the game at 51-all, and a Treyson Jones free throw with 6:45 left gave Sherman the lead for good in the middle of a 10-0 run.

"If we can force you to play fast and maybe be a little bit more reckless with the ball, it plays into what we want to do," Nix said. "We like to run the floor and shoot layups. We’re not a jump-shooting team; we like to slash and go to the basket."

Thompson, a junior, led all scorers with 33 points, 23 in the second half, and added six rebounds. Mask added 17 points and five steals.

"There were two or three really nice passes down the stretch that got (Thompson’s) teammates easy baskets," Nix said. "That’s where he’s improved the most. We always thought he could score, but things are starting to slow down for him and he’s starting to see his teammates."

Williams, the closest thing to a big man the Bearcats have, finished with nine points and six rebounds to match Thompson for the team high on the boards.

Spring Woods arrived only 20 minutes before the scheduled 4:30 p.m. tipoff after the team bus was stuck in traffic on Interstate 45, turning what should’ve been a five-hour trip into an almost 11-hour odyssey.

But early on, the Tigers didn’t show any ill effects.

After an even first quarter, Spring Woods ended the first half on an 11-2 run as the turnover bug bit the Bearcats, and then a 3-pointer from the right corner by Jamond Burleson made it a 13-point game to start the second half.

"This group is going to be very similar to last year," Nix said. "We’re going to have spurts where we go three or four minutes and can’t score. But maybe we can do some things defensively."

Burleson had 23 points for the Tigers (2-12), who lost their seventh-straight game. Jamal Turner followed with 19 points and Jermar Reed with 13 points and 14 rebounds. The Tigers outrebounded the Bearcats by a 41-33 margin.

"We didn’t rebound well as a team; we kind of stood and watched a lot tonight," Nix said. "We do that a lot when we’re in man-to-man (defense). We’ve got to be better at that, because we’re not very big."

Pool play for the Bearcats continues today, with games against Lake Dallas at 11:30 a.m. and Celina at 5:30 p.m. One more win should advance Sherman into Saturday’s championship bracket.

"I think it energized us," Nix said. "That’s the style we want to play. We’re only going to be able to do it if we hustle and stay out of foul trouble. If we get into foul trouble, we don’t have a lot of size coming off the bench."