For a stretch in the fourth quarter, the Houston Tigers played the style of basketball coach Tom Brown wants to implement. They forced turnovers with their fullcourt pressure, got transition baskets and drained 3-pointers.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, it was too little and too late.
Mansfield took control early with a 15-2 first-quarter run and withstood Houston’s feverish attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter en route to a 67-51 victory Tuesday inside Hiett Gymnasium.
Brown, who was hired just days before practice began following the resignation of previous HHS coach Dustin Kirkman, said it would be a “process” to install his uptempo style of play that made him successful at Meadow Heights High School.
“It’s just me adjusting to them,” he said. “I had to see what they can do. We’ve got work to do. But they’re positive, and it’s just one game.”
Point guard Curry Van Horn scored 18 points as the lone HHS player in double figures. Devin Coulter scored nine for the Tigers, who were out-rebounded 35-24.
Ryan Elliot led Mansfield with 23 points. Christian Gray added 16 and Carter Quick scored 15.
Houston (0-1) trailed 41-24 at the half before outscoring Mansfield in the second half.
“We weren’t aggressive enough offensively,” Brown said. “We had some shooters who wouldn’t shoot. For us to win, we have to have several kids shooting. If we don’t have faith in ourselves, we’re going to be hurting.”
Trailing 4-2 following a short jumper by Coulter, Mansfield quickly pulled away with a 15-2 run that Houston never completely recovered from. Quick’s triple from the left wing put Mansfield ahead 17-6 just under six minutes into the game.
Mansfield had a comfortable 19-point advantage entering the fourth quarter before the Tigers came to life. Rodney Preheim had a steal and layup and Coulter drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull HHS within 59-49 with 2:54 left.
Mansfield called three timeouts on consecutive plays as the Tigers forced turnovers with their pressure and scored.
Brown said he tweaked his fullcourt defense in the second half after Mansfield had little pressure with it early.
“I should have made an adjustment earlier on the press,” he said. “I thought we would get it. We redrew it and if you noticed in the second half, they didn’t get half as many layups.”
JUNIOR VARSITY: Devin Garrett scored 11 points and Gabe Pruett had nine in the JV Tigers’ 50-30 season-opening loss to Mansfield.
Pruett and Ryan Bowlin each hit 3-pointers for Houston, which trailed 12-1 after the opening quarter.
MANSFIELD (67) — Carter Quick 15. Kyle Rummens 4. Curtis Carnal 3. Christian Gray 16. Ryan Elliot 23. Dalton McNeil 6. FG 24. FT 16-30. F 13. (3-pointers: McNeil 2, Quick. Fouled out: none).
HOUSTON (51) — Curry Van Horn 18. Aaron Cantrell 4. Jacob Hall 2. Devin Coulter 9. Colten Huff 3. Weston Walker 7. Rodney Preheim 6. Devin Garrett 2. FG 21. FT 4-7. F 25. (3-pointers: Van Horn 2, Coulter, Huff, WWalker. Fouled out: WWalker).
HOUSTON (30) — Ryan Bowlin 3. Gabe Pruett 9. Tanner Smith 3. Devin Garrett 11. Tanner Cantrell 2. Tyler Best 2. FG 13. Ft 2-5. F 11. (3-pointers: Bowlin, Pruett. Fouled out: KWalker).