Houston junior Devin Coulter is fouled by Norwood's J.D. Caldwell as he goes to the basket in the second half Friday.

Slow starts are costing the Houston Tigers opportunities to win more games.

The theme from the first half of the season played out last week at the Cabool Holiday Tournament. The Tigers started slow, then outplayed the opponent in the second half. The results was one victory and a pair of losses.

First-year coach Richard Rose said he will make changes to the team’s practice routine and even pregame warm-ups to hopefully spark stronger starts to games. Houston has outscored seven of its 10 opponents in the second half this season and tied another. But the Tigers have a 3-7 record.

“The way they play in the second half is 100 times better than the first half. Every game. It’s not just one or two,” Rose said. “They aren’t ready to play when they start the game.

“I’m tired of saying it, and they’re probably tired of hearing it and not winning ballgames. It has been the difference so far.”

Slow starts cost the Tigers in both their tournament losses.

They trailed fifth-seeded Winona by 15 at the half in the opener before playing even the rest of the way. On Friday, Houston was behind 12 to Winona before a second-half edge.

The Tigers’ lone first-half advantage –– a 20-13 edge against Sparta on Thursday –– led to a victory.

“We never lay down. We always fight back. It’s just too little, too late because we give everyone a big lead on us,” Rose said. “It almost looks like we quit when the game starts and then start fighting after we’re out of it.”

In the tournament opener last Wednesday afternoon, Winona used a 20-6 second-quarter run en route to a 59-44 victory.

Senior Weston Walker scored a game-high 18 points for the Tigers. Devin Coulter scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.

Houston, which trailed by as many as 20 points, cut the deficit to 10 when Walker found Coulter behind the defense for an easy layin with 7 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game.

But Winona’s Austin Mays answered with a three-point play on the next possession and the Tigers never got closer.

“We’re around a ‘B’ in terms of effort and execution,” Rose said. “It’s just that when we don’t do those things, we really go off base.”

On Thursday, Coulter scored 24 of his 29 points in the second half as the Tigers topped Sparta 54-45 in the consolation bracket. Aaron Cantrell added eight points.

On Friday, Norwood’s 14-2 first-half run was too much for the Tigers to overcome as they lost 51-44 and were eliminated from the tournament.

Coulter scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter to lead HHS. Weston Walker added eight points.

Trailing by 12 at the half, Houston cut the deficit in half early in the third when Coulter drilled consecutive 3-pointers. Norwood pushed its lead to 11 before HHS again got within striking distance behind a Nathan Poynter 3-pointer and Coulter jumper early in the fourth.

But the Tigers, who held Norwood scoreless the first 5 minutes, 23 seconds of the quarter, never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

The Pirates hit six of their eight 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 30-18 lead.

J.D. Chadwell led Norwood with 19 points.

Box scores

Friday’s game

Houston       7    11    13    13    –    44 
Norwood   12    18    12    9   –   51

HOUSTON (44) – Nathan Poynter 5. Devin Coulter 24. Aaron Cantrell 5. Weston Walker 8. Kolby Walker 2. FG 16. FT 8-11. F 16. (3-pointers: Coulter 3, Poynter. Fouled out: KWalker).

NORWOOD (51) – Braden Denney 9. J.D. Chadwell 19. Derek Davis 2. Brady Jenkins 8. Zayne Tate 13. FG 18. FT 4-9. F 11. (3-pointers: Chadwell 3, Denney 2, Jenkins 2, Tate. Fouled out: none).

Thursday’s game

Houston       12    8    14    20    –    54 
Sparta   9   4   14    18   –   45

HOUSTON (54) – Devin Coulter 29. Nathan Poynter 3. Aaron Cantrell 8. Tanner Smith 2. Kolby Walker 6. Weston Walker 6. FG 21. FT 6-8. (3-pointers: Coulter 5, Poynter. Fouled out: none).

Wednesday’s game

Houston       10    8    16    10    –    44 
Winona   13    20    13    13    –    59

HOUSTON (44) – Nathan Poynter 6. Devin Coulter 13. Aaron Cantrell 3. Weston Walker 18. Kolby Walker 4. FG 20. FT 1-4. F 11. (3-pointers: Poynter 2, WWalker 2, Coulter).

WINONA (59) – Austin Mays 9. Luke Thompson 6. Zack Smith 17. Jacob Smith 16. Jeff Smith 11. FG 24. FT 7-10. F 11. (3-pointers: ZSmith 5. Fouled out: none).

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