Tom Bean uses fast start to take down Trenton

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Tom Bean's Lucas FItzgerald, who scored 26 points, drives to the basket against Trenton's Micah Wommack in the Tomcats' victory during 14-2A action.

TOM BEAN — With a turning of the page on the calendar, the Tom Bean Tomcats are playing with a little more confidence, a lot better defense and the latest result was a blowout victory they hope will help spur them along as the heart of district play approaches.

Despite those early lumps the holiday break — along with a well-timed bye in the 14-2A schedule —proved to be a welcome sight.

An extremely fast start allowed Tom Bean to cruise to a 52-24 victory against Trenton in district action and the focus was more about the defense which provided a 20-point advantage just minutes into the second quarter.

The Tomcats were coming off a loss but it was a low-scoring 38-37 decision to Celeste. The effort at one end of the floor carried over against Trenton and Tom Bean is hoping the trend can continue.

“That was probably are biggest struggle early,” said first-year Tomcats head coach Blaze Bain. “We’ve ramped up the competition in practice. We needed to force tougher shots in the paint. We’ve got some guys who can play defense.”

Lucas Fitzgerald scored 26 points, C.J. Richter added 10 points and Branson Ashlock chipped in five points for Tom Bean (4-14, 1-2), which plays at Sam Rayburn on Friday night. The two teams are tied in the standing for fourth place.

“Our confidence has gotten a lot better. Not that anybody in the district is a cakewalk but we want to be in a good position,” Bain said. “Hopefully we are at 2-2 after this week and then have two big games next week.”

Stone Anderson and Logan Latimer scored six points apiece for Trenton (2-15, 0-4), which quickly fell behind by 15 points and never got the deficit within single digits.

The Tomcats raced out to a 16-1 lead after six minutes and Fitzgerald led the way. He drilled two three-pointers out of four baskets for 10 quick points that forced Trenton to spread out its defense instead of focusing on the inside play of Richter and Ashlock.

“We hit three threes early and that changed their game plan,” Bain said. “They wanted to pack it in on our big guys and they couldn’t because guys were hitting open shots.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers managed just a free throw by Latimer until Zak Holley’s putback with 1:15 left in the opening frame produced Trenton’s initial bucket.

Richter’s free throw in the closing moments of the first gave the home team a 17-3 lead and a 7-1 burst to start the second quarter with a three from Branigan Gomez in the middle of the stretch pushed Tom Bean’s advantage to 24-4.

“We kept mixing up defenses to try and keep them on their toes,” Bain said.

Trenton managed only two points for more than five minutes and got baskets by Micah Wommack and Holley around a three from Fitzgerald as the only other scoring from the Tigers before the break.

Tom Bean went into the locker room with a 31-8 lead as Fitzgerald picked up 17 of those points and Richter did most of the heavy lifting in the second quarter, notching seven points in the frame.

Bain wasn’t happen with the Tomcats’ third quarter as Trenton put together its best stretch of the night and Tom Bean hit just one shot during a five-minute span.

“We came out of the half with a little of a lull,” he said. “We went into the half with a little bit of one and it carried over.”

It still wasn’t enough to make a dent in the gap the Tomcats had built — the Tigers never got closer than 18 in the third before Tom Bean carried a 40-19 lead into the final eight minutes — and then the Cats opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 spurt capped on a Richter three which saw the lead peak at 28.

It was a number Tom Bean would hit twice more, including the final score as it cruised to the victory.

Trenton had five points in the fourth and the Tigers barely managed as many points in the other three quarters (13) as in the third quarter alone (11).