Sherman beats Denison in 10-5A opener

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Kasai Burton drives to the basket during a victory against Denison in 10-5A action.

To start off district play with your biggest rival can only add to the pressure. And for the Sherman Bearcats and Denison Yellow Jackets, it was going to be a positive beginning for someone after two teams that combined for just three district wins last season.

A new-look district will have a couple of more challengers thanks to the additions of Rock Hill and The Colony but the goal will remain the same in trying to reach the playoffs.

The Bearcats handled the situation best by racing out to an early start, maintaining a double-digit lead for almost the entire final three quarters and coming away with a 77-42 victory against the Yellow Jackets in the 10-5A opener at Denison.

Sherman has won three straight in the rivalry and the Bearcats’ only two district wins last season were against the Jackets. Getting more on the board in 10-5A this season is a big focus.

“It’s getting the guys to win each day. We’re not going to overlook anybody,” Sherman head coach Jordan Marks said. “We’ve got two state-ranked teams in our district in McKinney North and Rock Hill. Today was about focusing on Denison and winning against Denison.”

Kasai Burton and Vontrelle Sanders each scored 17 points while Elijah Chapman added 15 points and Jalarien Wilson finished with eight points for Sherman (7-5, 1-0), which plays at Lovejoy on Tuesday.

Caleb Heavner and Jadarian Price each scored seven points while Trey Rhodes and Ross Hall chipped in five points apiece for Denison (1-5, 0-1), which travels to McKinney North on Tuesday.

The Jackets were playing just their third game since getting almost the entire roster on the court after football season ended but were unable to build on their first victory over Gunter before they headed into their showdown with the Bearcats.

Sherman, meanwhile, started the season with its core of Burton, Wilson and Sanders and was able to play all but one of the games scheduled which ended up being twice the total of Denison early-season action.

“You’ve got that extra experience coming in and we needed to take advantage of that. We had to use that to our strength,” Marks said, “We’ve added some players from football I think can fill some roles for us. We’re still meshing as a team.”

Sherman raced out to a 13-4 lead and it was 17-8 after Wilson slammed home an alley-oop from Burton with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Bearcats held a 19-10 advantage after the opening eight minutes as Burton, Chapman and Wilson all hit a pair of shots during the frame.

Neither team scored in the first two minutes of the second quarter but then the Bearcats ripped off a 10-0 run that included back-to-back threes by Sanders and Chapman which helped pushed the margin to 21 points.

Price made a three-pointer from the left corner for the first Denison points of the quarter with 2:34 remaining before half-time which sparked an 8-0 burst. Hall came up with a steal and layin before Heavner made a three from the left wing and the deficit was down to 14 points.

Anthony Gionfriddo scored in the final minute to give Sherman a 33-18 lead at the break.

The Bearcats used another push in the middle of the third quarter to double up the score.

Heavner had consecutive buckets to pull Denison within 17 points before an 11-0 run from Sherman made it a 52-24 contest. Dionte Agnew had a three in the middle of the surge and Burton capped it with a pair of layups,

“We knew we needed to get stops. That’s what our speech was about,” Marks said. “That’s what turned the tide in this game.”

Sherman was up 54-29 after three quarters and the lead hit 30 points in the opening minute of the fourth as the Bearcats were able to cruise through the final quarter.

“No one wants to be on the losing side of this,” Marks said. “These kids hang out with each other, they know each other and it’s going to be a battle you have to be ready for.”

District 10-5A

Sherman                 77

Denison                  42