The second half of the 10-6A season got started on Tuesday and Rowlett was hopeful that a new beginning would spark a turnaround to its district season.
The Eagles started strong, but a cold-shooting second quarter allowed South Garland to find its rhythm and it propelled them to a 61-52 victory at Rowlett High School.
Rowlett falls to 1-7 in 10-6A while the Colonels avenge an earlier loss to the Eagles and move into a crowded three-way tie for second place at 5-3.
With its playoff hopes potentially on the line, Rowlett made one final charge in the fourth quarter.
Torian Harris converted a layup and a runner in the lane and Udi Anyiam scored inside as part of a 6-0 run to close to within 54-47 with 3:35 left.
The momentum claim was fleeting though, as Ali Cannon got the rim for a layup, Justin McBride hit a short jumper and Cannon then drained a 3-pointer from the corner to push the lead back to 61-47 with just 2:05 left.
It was another frustrating end for Rowlett, who dropped its seventh straight game since winning its 10-6A opener over South Garland earlier in the month.
The Eagles had gotten off to a good start, using a patient offense along with a solid defensive effort on the other side of the court.
Anyiam scored twice inside sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Harris to take a 7-4 lead.
The Colonels took their first lead after baskets from TJ Brown and McBride, but Coltyn Collins drained a 3-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer to regain the advantage at 10-8.
Harris got the crowd into it when he drove the baseline for a dunk and Collins hit two free throws to give the Eagles a 14-11 lead.
South Garland’s counter was a 18-4 run to end the half that proved to be the difference in the game.
McBride, one of several standout freshmen for the Colonels, scored twice inside and Cannon and James Fincher converted layups to take a 19-14 lead.
Rowlett tried to stem the tide with a pair of free throws from Anyiam and a bucket from Will Burnett, but South Garland continued its charge.
Brandon Nave and Fincher hit short jumpers, Brown made a layup and Don Anderson scored four late points, including one at the basket to take a 29-18 halftime lead.
Burnett scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter and he sliced to the basket for a layup to close to within 35-27 midway through the frame.
The Colonels continued to have answers, though, as McBride scored six points in the period and Quinton Perkins knocked down a late 3-pointer to help them maintain a 44-32 lead going to the fourth.
Rowlett cut the deficit to eight twice early in the final period—on a 3-pointer by Elijah San Juan and a three-point play by Zavien Henderson—and closed it to seven on Anyiam’s basket, but they never could claw all the way back.
Burnett led the Eagles with 15 points, while Anyiam had 11 and Henderson and Harris each added nine.
South Garland had a quartet of players in double figures, a McBride and Brown, another freshman, each tallied 14 points, Fincher had 11 and Cannon scored 10.
Rowlett will try to get back on the winning track on Friday, but it will be a tough chore against district-leading and undefeated Wylie, while South Garland hosts Naaman Forest.