HILLSBORO, Texas — Sometimes the same statistical strength that helps a team build a win streak on one night will be the same thing that ends it. For Maypearl High School's varsity boys basketball team, that "thing" was two-fold: rebounds and defense.
And sometimes, having a gunslinger-like offense isn't enough to win games in the scoring-friendly world of high school basketball.
Joe Jones scored 19 points and Brandon Wright had 17 points, but their firepower wasn't enough as the Panthers fell 85-77 and dropped their fifth game of the season to Hillsboro High School on Monday night at HHS Gymnasium.
"We didn't rebound or play defense very well," Panther Head Coach Sam Riepe said. "We allowed them to get 16 to 20 offensive rebounds. We can't win games doing that. We have to be a good, fundamental team that wins the up-and-down-the-court battle. It's not that they played bad, it just wasn't good enough to win."
Two other Panthers scored in double figures and another almost made that number three, but outside of Jake Wiggins' eight rebounds, Maypearl struggled to create second-chance opportunities. Of the 23 total rebounds they collected against Hillsboro, only eight were offensive.
Tyriq Massey added 16 points, Jake Wiggins had 11 and Tucker Talley had nine. Tanir Horton and Gunner Petty scored three and two points, respectively.
The 85 points allowed to the Eagles was the highest of the season and highest since their 76-73 overtime loss to Ferris High School during the Venus High School Varsity Tournament.
Maypearl — which allowed 28 points in the first eight minutes of play and 27 during the closing quarter — was outscored in the first and fourth quarters and drew even with the Eagles in the third. Before facing Hillsboro, the Panthers allowed 24 points once and not more than 20 in all other quarters.
"We just weren't mentally ready [during the first quarter]. We have to do a better job starting games," Jones said. "We have to come out and play aggressively for all four quarters. I think we learned the key to beating teams that play zone is to push the ball in transition and move it from side to side. We love the transition game, but for it to be successful, our half court game has to be just as good."
The loss came on the heels of back-to-back wins at home — a 64-46 blowout of Frost High School last Tuesday and a down-to-the-wire 65-60 finish against Kemp on Friday.
Maypearl made 30 of 67 shots (45 percent)and notched 10 assists on their 30 field goals. They also had 10 turnovers.
The Panthers stayed in the game by shooting a blistering 80 percent from the three-point line at halftime, helping them spark a run and close the points gap to six points. Led by Jones' 5-for-9 3-point shooting, Maypearl finished 14-for-25 (56 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
By the time the final quarter started, the Panthers had dwindled Hillsboro's lead from 11 to six. Riepe said the hard work his team put in after the first quarter was promising regardless of the loss in the stat book.
"These kids don't quit and keep fighting. We were down 10 against Hillsboro and they fought all the way back. I feel like we can beat any team in our district, if we bring it every night," Riepe said. "If we can win our first two games against Keene and Rice (High Schools) — two very solid teams — it would be a big confidence booster for our kids. The real games are getting ready to start and there isn't going to be an easy one on the schedule. I think every player on our roster knows we're going to get every team's A-game. Being 2-0 going into the break also gives you confidence during the back half of district because you know you've already beat those teams."
Maypearl will open District 17-3A play against Keene High School at 3 p.m. Oct. 30 at MHS Gymnasium. The teams were scheduled to play in Keene, Texas, but administrators decided to change venues to avoid the spread of an alleged "mumps outbreak" at Keene ISD schools.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.