EL CAMPO – Revenge is best served cold. After a loss in football, the Wharton Runnin’ Tigers got their payback on the road Tuesday, Jan. 14 against the El Campo Ricebirds, 83-61.
A fairly-close game through two and a half quarters turned into a blow out once Wharton's shots started falling.
The Runnin’ Tigers’ James Jones scored all of his 22 points in the second half, indulging making three, three-pointers in the third quarter.
"Our defensive intensity (was key). We pressed them a lot and then our shots started falling in the second half," Jones said. "Coaches kept telling us to keep shooting and our shots are going to start falling and eventually they did."
Early on Wharton rushed out to leads, but El Campo wouldn't go away and kept chipping away. At the end of the half, the Ricebirds trailed by seven points. El Campo had chances to make Wharton pay at the free-throw line, but players missed 8-of-15 at the line.
Both teams traded three's at the start of the third. The Ricebirds’ Trinceton Foley grabbed a steal and was fouled on a layup, but his two made free-throws made it 40-35, the closest the game would get the rest of the way.
El Campo's offense scored 22 points but it couldn't keep pace. Wharton clamped down on El Campo and started pressing. When Wharton picked off bad passes, players ran back down the court and put in layups.
The loss by El Campo is the fourth in a row and its 29th straight district loss.
While the Ricebirds average loss in the district is 21 points, in three of the four games, they've been within a couple of possessions in the second half. But in crunch time, El Campo hasn't been able to lock in the same way it did in non-district play.
"These guys have the skills and I'll put my guys against Wharton any day," El Campo coach Chris Burrow said. "But I think there is a little bit of a lingering (negative) mentality … We're at half time and we're down by seven. We're still in this game. We chip away and we're within five and Wharton hits a couple of three's and (there) they go."
Playing a little too cautious when things get tight has been a problem. Offensive rebounds are kicked out inside of going right back up for the put back. Open shots are passed up for an extra pass.
Wharton junior Fred Jones had a game-high 27 points and four other Runnin’ Tigers finished with double-digit scoring.
The Tigers aren't state-ranked but their solid play is making them a scary team. On Friday, Jan. 17, Wharton played Fulshear and Tuesday, Jan. 21 will take on Stafford, both state-ranked.
"We're going to learn a lot about ourselves in the next few games," Wharton coach Clavin King said. "We feel like we are one of those teams that can play with anybody. (We'll) fix the small mistakes in each of these games and we might have the chance to do something special towards the end."