THE COLONY – Cleve Ryan isn’t one for moral victories, but after his The Colony boys basketball team lost 77-63 to Lake Highlands on Tuesday night, he said there were plenty of positives that his Cougars can build on going forward.
First, there was the start.
The Colony (0-2) capitalized on its overall team speed to force the issue in transition in the first quarter.
Senior Caden Sclafani made the short pass to senior Braxton McCutcheon, who buried a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 12-7 Cougar lead with 4:15 left. A minute later, The Colony worked through Lake Highland’s press and East Carolina commit Tay Mosher made a trey of his own to increase The Colony’s advantage to 17-7.
Mosher scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half. Junior Jahyden Davis reached double figures with 14 points, followed by Grayson Ryan’s 12 points. McCutcheon added nine points on three 3s.
“The guys came ready to play,” coach Ryan said.
That lead grew to 27-14 after an Eli Williams 3-pointer 44 seconds into the second quarter, but a change in defensive philosophy by Lake Highlands (2-0) put the clamps on The Colony’s offense.
The Wildcats switched to a full-court press that emphasized trapping ball handlers, and that gave the Cougars fits.
Lake Highlands forced several turnovers, which led to transition opportunities on offense. Noah McDavid converted a layup with 3:34 left in the first half after the teams exchanged four straight turnovers within a 20-second span. The Wildcats came all the way back from double digits to take a 39-37 lead on a Tre Johnson 3-pointer with 1:12 left in the first half.
Lake Highlands led 42-39 at the half.
“A lot of times when teams change the pace of a game, it can catch you off balance if you’re not ready for it,” coach Ryan said. “All of a sudden, they came out and pressed and tried some different traps. They’re very active and have some length. They just got a few quick turnovers that hurt us.”
The Colony didn’t wave the towel.
Mosher quarterbacked several fastbreak opportunities for the Cougars in the third quarter, using long passes to set up shot opportunities before the Wildcats could get back on defense. One of those passes led to a Ryan 3-pointer for a 47-46 Cougar advantage with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
Lake Highlands rallied to go ahead 56-52, but Mosher buried a 3-pointer from the right side of the court with two seconds left in the third quarter, providing The Colony with good momentum heading into the game’s final eight minutes of play.
“I told them that I was proud of them after we got down and fought back,” coach Ryan said. “That’s going to happen against these tough teams. They didn’t quit. I was proud of their effort.”
But, that momentum didn’t last.
Lake Highlands suffocated The Colony with its defense, forcing eight turnovers and holding the Cougars to eight points during the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats started the frame on an 8-0 run and held the Cougars scoreless until a Davis 3-pointer with 4:59 left. But, The Colony was unable to get closer than six points.
Frisco Wakeland 61, The Colony 48
To open the season, The Colony started strong but was unable to build on an early eight-point lead in a 61-48 loss to Wakeland.
The Cougars led 18-10 after the first quarter but were outscored by the Wolverines 51-30 over the final three quarters.
Junior Grayson Ryan paced The Colony with 12 points. Sclafani reached double figures with 10 points. Davis scored seven of his nine points in the second half. McCutcheon chipped in all nine of his points in the first quarter, all 3-pointers. Mosher tallied six points.