CAPTION: Smoking For Jesus sophomore guard Michael Richard and the Eagles played two games in advance of the district opener and quest for another state title. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Smoking For Jesus boys basketball team went 1-1 in games played Dec. 27 and 30.
The Eagles lost to Round Rock Ignite 102-85 Dec. 30 and beat Killeen Memorial Christian Academy 63-36 Dec. 27.
Ignite (7-5) raced to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter and held on for the win.
“We started off slow, and it put us in a bind early,” head coach Boo Maxwell said. “In the second half, we made a run that put us down nine. But we turned the ball over a couple of times. They were a very athletic and fast team. They had a lot of size.”
Smoking For Jesus trailed 41-30 at the half and 70-56 headed into the final period.
As a team, Smoking For Jesus made 31 of 47 free throws.
“We missed some crucial free throws,” Maxwell said. “They outscored us by three in the third quarter and three in the fourth quarter. This game came down to offensive rebounds and turnovers, and free throws hurt us.”
Senior guard Jonathan Frazier paced the Eagles with 30 points thanks to making 10 of 15 field goals and hitting 10 of 13 free throws.
“Jonathan had the game of his life,” the coach said. “He attacked the hole a lot.”
Senior guard Isaac Legier dropped in 24 points, while sophomore guard Michael Richard added 14 and senior forward Bryson Culver scored 13.
Maxwell summed up the win against Memorial Christian in one word.
“We played excellent,” he said. “We went up against a team we played before. The last time we played them, we didn’t have Isaac or Jonathan.”
The first time the two played Dec. 9, the Eagles prevailed 52-42. This time Legier paced Smoking For Jesus by scoring 31 points, Culver added 17 and Frazier dropped in 10.
Smoking For Jesus led 9-3 after the first period, 23-14 at that half, and 50-19 at the end of the third quarter.
“We started strong from the get-go and never let up,” the coach said. “We played excellent defense. In the first, second and third quarters, we played locked-down defense, and it showed. We played together collectively and played one of our best games of the season.”
He noted Memorial Christian choose not to full-court press the Eagles in the rematch because his players beat it with their quickness and accurate passes. But the Eagles showed they are dangerous in their half-court offensive sets, too, Maxwell said.
“We spread the floors and made cuts to the basket,” he said. “Our half-court offense stepped up just by spreading the floor that game.”
Reserves took over in the final period.
The Eagles welcome Austin Royals Home School at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, in their first district game as members of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations.
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