The Mineola Yellowjackets boys basketball team held on late in the fourth quarter giving them a much needed victory against the Atlanta (TX) Rabbits Thursday morning.
The match up pitted the 3A Jackets against the 4A Rabbits as a part of the 2017 Spring Hill Holiday Tournament.
The game was played at an odd time for most high school athletes at 10 a.m. Thursday serving as the first round of bracket play during the tournament.
Mineola came in to bracket play as the fourth seed after a solid showing against both the host team, Spring Hill, and Carthage the previous day.
The Jackets’ game against Atlanta was a tale of two halves as Mineola seemed to have been shot out of a cannon as they raced out to a 12-2 lead in just under four minutes.
The Yellowjacket defense was spearheaded by senior forward Sean Dennis’ excellent rim protection as he blocked three shots in the first quarter and on offense senior guard Cameron Sorenson was red hot as he scored eight points in the opening frame. Sorenson hit two threes during the quarter to lead Mineola.
After going up 12-2 midway through the first quarter Atlanta was forced to call timeout. However the Rabbits responded late in the first as they scored the last six points of the quarter as Mineola held a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter Mineola continued to use their 2-2-1 full-court press to stymie the Rabbits on offense leading to repeated turnovers and fast-break opportunities.
In the opening minutes of the second quarter freshman guard Jonah Fischer hit a three to push Mineola’s lead to 11 before Dennis and Kadavion George took over the offensive load. Dennis had eight points of his own in the quarter while George contributed eight points and four rebounds during the same span. The half was capped off when George hit a buzzer-beating fade away jump shot just as the first half expired. At halftime Mineola led 35-18.
However after a hook shot by Davion Sneed and a steal and lay-up by Sorenson, the Mineola offense began to stall out. Mineola, who was up by 21 points early in the third quarter, began to do exactly what their opponents had done in the first half – turn the ball over repeatedly.
Desperate and in search for options the Atlanta defense went to a full-court press of their own. The Rabbits used their solid defense and great length to bother the smaller Mineola guards.
Atlanta cut Mineola’s 21-point lead to 17 by the end of the third after a 4-0 run and that trend continued in to the fourth quarter.
In a change of roles the fourth quarter was completely the opposite of the first half as Mineola began to miss free throws, layups and turn the ball over again and again. Atlanta was able to cut Mineola’s lead to single digits after hitting a three. Mineola led 48-39 after the Rabbits’ 10-2 run.
Later in the quarter Atlanta would cut the lead again to five after another three, however the Rabbits would inch no closer as Mineola would go on to win by five 54-49.
No stats were available by early deadline last week.