When people look at the final score of Tuesday’s cross-town rivalry game between Horn and Mesquite, it might seem hard to believe the Skeeters led 17-16 midway through the second quarter.
Though it was tight early on, once the Jaguars shifted into a higher gear, Mesquite simply had no answer.
Horn outscored Mesquite 57-16 during the final 20 minutes to run away with a 73-33 home victory.
The Jaguars improve to 4-1 and move into a tie for first place in 11-6A with Rockwall, while the Skeeters fall back to 3-2 in district play.
“I think our guys got over a little bit of nerves early on,” Horn head coach Ondra Waddy said. “Some of our shots weren’t falling early, some open three’s we usually hit, so I think we got more aggressive in terms of taking the ball to the basket, getting some easier looks. And we got our defense going, got some steals that led to easy baskets and that really helped changed the momentum of the game.”
A packed gymnasium held its breath in anticipation for what was looking to be a down-to-the-wire affair, as the teams were tied five times and traded the lead on six occasions during the early going.
The Horn crowd finally had a chance to erupt after a dunk by Zaakir Sawyer, and even after a 3-pointer by Mesquite’s Jerald Thompson, the momentum had clearly shifted.
K.J. Smith quickly answered for the Jaguars with a trey of his own and Preston Aymond knocked down a free-throw-line jumper and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 24-17.
That was just the start of a 16-5 run, that was largely fueled by the second unit off the bench, and capped by a trey from Devyn Perro, gave Horn a 32-22 halftime lead.
“We’re a versatile team, we can go big, we can go small and I think changing some of the lineups up, going small, using some of the speedier group really helped us out,” Waddy said.
That surge was just a sign of things to come, as the Jaguars opened the second half on a 16-0 run. Sawyer was the catalyst, hitting from the outside, driving the basket and getting to the free throw line as he scored 11 of the 16 points, including a putback to make it 48-22 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
Jerald Thompson finally scored for Mesquite to break a drought of nearly six minutes, but it would make no difference.
Horn led 54-31 at the end of three quarters and they let their reserves take it the rest of the way. Jacob Hernandez scored six points, Savion Moning tallied five and Deverick Jones knocked down a 3-pointer as they closed the game on a 19-2 run.
Sawyer led the way for the Jaguars with 17 points, Hancock was also in double figures with 11 but the depth was the story, as 14 different Horn players scored.
Diandrae Heath, Mesquite’s leading scorer, paced the Skeeters with 10 points, but was whistled for a technical foul late in the first half and did not return.
It would likely have not made a difference against a Horn team that not only hit its stride as the game progressed, seems to be doing the same in the big picture as they moved into a tie for first place with Rockwall, a team they will see on Friday.
The Jaguars will be on the road in a hostile environment, but that is a reason they scheduled like they did early on, and the experience of having played seven state-ranked teams, and beating four of them, will have them confident entering the showdown.
“We’ve played a lot of really good teams, so there really isn’t anything we haven’t seen,” Waddy said. “That’s helped us to become a better team ourselves.”