ANSONIA – Ansonia came out strong against Houston Tuesday night, but a rough stretch in the middle of the game cost the Tigers as they lost 53-42.
Ansonia led at the end of the first quarter and never trailed in the first 12 minutes of the game. However, Houston went on a 14-2 run to end the first half and take it lead it never surrendered.
“I thought we had a really nice first quarter,” Ansonia boys basketball coach Chad Cramer said. “Came out and really moved the ball well in motion. Gave up a couple easy baskets early, but we made some adjustments on defense. The big part of the game was they made that little push at the end of the first half, beginning of the third quarter. Other than that I thought we played pretty well tonight.”
The Tigers’ strong start was powered by a balanced scoring attack with five players – Aydan Sanders, Trevor Alexander, Devyn Sink, Dane Wentworth and Lane Clark – each scoring in the first quarter.
Houston found success going inside to 6-foot 4-inch senior center Zach Freytag and 6-foot 2-inch senior forward Zach Jolly, who combined to score the Wildcats’ first 12 points, but Ansonia led 16-13 through one quarter of play.
“It was good because we were doing a lot of the right things,” Cramer said. “Houston is a good team. They’ve got good guards. They’ve got good post players. That’s a tough team to match up with, and they showed it there.”
The second quarter started off well for Ansonia, too, with scoring from Hunter Muir and Alexander helping maintain the Tigers’ lead.
Houston tied the game at 19-19 midway through the quarter and took its first lead of the night on a basket by Cameron Arnold with 3:50 remaining in the half. After that the Wildcats scored 10 of the next 12 points, with Muir contributing the Tigers’ only basket of that stretch, to go into halftime with a 31-21 lead.
After leading by 10 at halftime, Houston kept its double-digit advantage the rest of the game thanks to a strong third quarter. Domyneik Phipps scored 10 points in the period, including the Wildcats’ first eight, as Houston outscored Ansonia 14-4 in the period to extend its lead to 20 points.
“We’ve been flat coming out of the third quarter all year, and that happened again tonight,” Cramer said. “But after that four-minute stretch there in the third we played pretty even with them the rest of the game.”
After a rough stretch in the second and third quarters, Ansonia finished strong in the fourth and outscored Houston 17-8. Muir, Sink, Wentworth, Sanders and Nathan Denniston each scored in the period as Ansonia cut the Houston lead to 11 points. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the large deficit the Tigers faced as they lost 53-42.
“We had a bad last two minutes of the second quarter and a bad first four minutes of the third quarter,” Cramer said. “The rest of the game I thought we played pretty well.”
Sanders led Ansonia with 11 points in Tuesday’s game. Also for the Tigers, Wentworth scored nine points, Sink scored seven, Muir scored five, Alexander scored four, Denniston scored four, and Clark scored two.
Freytag led Houston with a game-high 19 points. Also for the Wildcats, Phipps scored 14 points, Jolly scored 10, Mark Schaffer scored seven, Arnold scored two, and Isaiah Beaver scored one.
Ansonia, which dropped to 0-6 with Tuesday’s loss, will play host to Bradford in a Cross County Conference game on Friday.
“We keep talking to the guys about moving forward,” Cramer said. “Can’t always worry about wins and losses. With our age right now we’ve just got to worry about getting better.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.