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8th Maroon Lions protect home court vs. Warriors

Strong second quarter puts Ennis over the top vs. Waxahachie
The eighth grade Maroon Lions only won the second quarter on Thursday night against the Waxahachie Warriors, but it proved to be enough to win the game as well.
Ennis was at its best in the second (17-7) and then hung tight after halftime for a 52-47 victory. While the Warriors looked to haphazardly jack up three-pointers, coach Quinton Brown’s team primarily worked for quality looks in the paint.
“I’ve been talking to the guys all week about high-percentage shots,” Brown said.
“They now understand that most junior high players aren’t going to consistently knock down long shots, so they’re always looking for the guy closest to the hoop.”
Ennis really benefited from excellent production throughout its roster on Thursday. Top performers included Zaid Salim (8 points, 9 rebounds, assist, 2 steals), Ryan Woods (8 points, 8 rebounds, assist, 2 steals), Hunter Isom (9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) and Malik Jenkins (6 points, 11 rebounds, steal). Quality contributions also came from Trevor Goehring (8 points, 4 rebounds, assist), Trevor Davenport (5 points, 3 assists, 4 steals) and Brandon Adams (1 point, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block).
Ennis was ready to play for sure as it jumped out to an 8-2 lead. Isom and Adams each had two assists on four-made baskets for the Lions as Goehring knocked down a pair of jumpers.
Ennis’ first two hoops actually came off well-executed inbounds plays.
“With us not getting in a full week of practice, I was a little nervous about our start,” Brown said.
“The guys came out focused and fought hard. Goehring had been overshooting most of the season, but he put in a lot of work on his shot this week and knocked them down. We were using an inbounds play that I got from [varsity Lion] Coach [Jerry] Mason and we probably scored about 75 percent of the time we ran it.”
The Warriors hit a three and took advantage of some Ennis turnovers for a 7-0 run to pull into the lead. A Woods free throw with just one second left in the quarter made for a 9-9 affair after one.
“We got a little lackadaisical with our defense and also turned the ball over to let Waxahachie back in it,” the coach said.
The second quarter was all about tremendous ball movement as Ennis rolled up six assists to pull away.
Rodney Dent opened the scoring with a wing three off a Davenport assist, but Rodney also notched three of his own assists in the quarter thanks to inside finishes from Isom and Salim (twice).
The Lions were able to establish Salim down low in their best quarter of the night, but Goehring also capped off a great first half for him as he hit a short jumper, scored on a putback and simply outworked the Warriors. Add Woods to the list as he had a strong quarter with four points and five rebounds for a 26-16 Ennis lead.
“Guys kept moving instead of standing around on offense,” Brown said.
“I was happy to see that because we got some more fast-break points tonight. Zaid is a force in the middle with his size and rebounding ability. Foul trouble was the only thing that slowed him down.
“Ryan was very active tonight and did a great job. He’s been improving from week to week, playing under control with better footwork.”
The third quarter was much more competitive as the Warriors were able to get to the hoop, as well as the free-throw line. Ennis was clearly off its game early in the half as Jenkins (three points, steal) was the lone Lion to get much done. In the second half overall, Malik was a beast on the boards with nine rebounds.
“We were very out of sync early in the third,” Brown said.
“I just had to light a little fire under the guys and rearrange the lineup we had out there. Malik is our best leaper and he’s got good size. He really did a good job on the boards.”
A highlight for Ennis in the third was certainly a trio of sure-handed finishes on the fast break by Darby Smith (two) and Davenport as they got behind the Warrior defense.
“Early in the year, we weren’t finishing in transition like that,” Brown said.
“Darby and Trevor got under control and had some good finishes.”
Ennis led 37-28 heading to the fourth as it looked to secure the home win. It didn’t hurt matters that the Lions snagged a bevy of steals down the stretch, including two apiece by Isom and Davenport. As Waxahachie continued to score inside looking to close the gap, Davenport assisted Woods on a layup and then Isom found Davenport in transition.
Though their percentage wasn’t anything to write home about, the Lions lived at the free-throw line late in the contest with 16 fourth-quarter attempts. The Warriors just wouldn’t go quietly as they staged a 7-0 run for a five-point game with 97 seconds left as Brown called a timeout. Salim had a big putback off a missed free throw, while Isom scored in transition and then sliced through the defense for a huge layup that put the game on ice.
“A lot of our late free throws came from attacking the basket,” the coach said.
“Hunter finished strong tonight. He’s providing some leadership at point guard, as is Darby when he’s in there. We called that timeout and persevered to get the win.”
The Maroon Lions will now head to Cedar Hill today and Saturday to compete in their district tournament.

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Posted by on Jan 30 2009. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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